USA Cancels Liberia's Debt

Tuesday, 13th February 2007
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.
Photo Credit: Ousman Diallo/Executive Mansion
Washington DC, USA - The government of the United States has announced the cancellation of all debt Liberia owes that country amounting US$ 391 million dollars.  The decision announcing the debt cancellation was made today by US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, when she addressed the opening session of the Liberian Partners Forum, which formally opened Tuesday in Washington, DC.

Making the disclosure, Secretary of State Rice said the United States was taking the decision to assist Liberia address the critical needs of its people and address the debt burden which the people of Liberia do not deserve. The top US Foreign Service official said the United States will work with other multi-lateral institutions to address the debt issue.

According to an Executive Mansion dispatch from Washington, DC, Madam Rice also announced that a US Trade agreement will this Thursday sign a Trade and Investment Framework agreement with the Liberian government, while steps are being taken to resume direct flights between Liberian and the United States, by signing an open Skies Agreement, “which will deepen the connection between our people, our businesses and economies.”

“These efforts are aimed at helping the government and people of Liberia in the country’s transformation,” the US Secretary of State told a full capacity opening session. She recounted the United States government’s role in helping to stabilize Liberia during and following years of conflict. The US official was full of praises for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s policies and programs aimed at reviving the country. “Thank you for your outstanding and inspirational leadership; we will continue to provide fullest support to this new government,” the Secretary of State assured Liberia and the International Community.

Earlier in her opening statement, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the international Community for its support. The President reiterated her appeal for an increased pace between commitment and cash. The people of Liberia, she said, are not interested in international bureaucratic clichés such as the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (IPRSP), but only want a better life where they can live in peace and provide for their families.

The essence of the Partners Forum, the President emphasized, is to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of government’s programs as the country moves forward. The President said her vision for the future is to build a new nation that is peaceful, secure and prosperous. “We must establish a strong economy and ensure that the benefits accrued to the nation is not just for a few,” the President said, and expressed her government’s determination to work towards the protection of basic human rights.

Tuesday’s opening session was also addressed by World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, and the Head of the European Commission, Luis Michael; the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Donald Kabaruka and the President of the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Rodrigo de Rato as well as the United Nations Special Special Representative of the Secretary-general, Mr. Alan Doss. They all expressed confidence in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration as well the need for a critical and urgent look at Liberia’s debt burden.  

Read speech delivered by Condoleeezza Rice.