5 March Press Brief

Monday, 5th March 2007

Members of the Press:

I like to welcome you all to another regular Press briefing by the Office of the Press Secretary to the President.

The President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leaves the country today for visits to Ghana, Spain, Japan, and Brussels. While in Ghana, the President will participate in official programs marking the 50th Independence Anniversary of Ghana. The President will be joining more than 30 other African Heads of State and other World Leaders for the celebrations, which officially start Monday.

The President departs Accra on Tuesday, March 5, for Madrid, Spain at the start of an official visit. While in Spain, President Johnson Sirleaf will meet with the President of Spain, Mr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero; the Foreign Minister, Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos. The President will also be received in audience by the King and Queen of Spain.
President Johnson Sirleaf will be holding bilateral talks with Spanish government officials, aimed at resuming bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The President, along with the Prime Minister of Mozambique, Mrs. Luisa Diogo, will also address the opening session of the second International Women Meeting, under the theme, “Women for a Better World.”  The meeting is hosted by the Vice President of the Spanish government, Mrs. Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

The Chief Executive travels later to Japan on Sunday, March 11, at the start of a three-day official visit.
In Japan, Madam Johnson Sirleaf will meet with the Emperor, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and other senior Japanese government officials, in an effort to re-start bilateral programs between Japan and Liberia. Japan’s support for our health sector has had a significant impact on our Country’s health delivery system. The President is interested in resuming those ties.

Our President will also be discussing with Japanese officials Liberia’s debt issue and what role that country can play in helping to relieve the country of its debt burden.

The President will also be urging Japanese companies to invest in Liberia and encourage Japanese Ship owners to expand registry under the Liberian flag.

Accompanied by Planning and Economic Affairs Minister, Dr. Toga McIntosh, President Johnson Sirleaf will also make a stop in Brussels on March 14 – 16, to pitch for more bilateral cooperation between Liberian and that European Country.

Among those traveling with the President are a number of Ministers and Legislators. Education Minister, Dr. Joseph Korto and Mrs. Clavenda Bright-Parker, Ambassador-at-Large, are part of the President’s delegation to Ghana.
The President’s delegation to Spain includes Rivercess County Representative Elizabeth Williams; Maryland County Representative, Dr. Bofal Chambers; the Ministers of Labor and Transportation, as well as Bomi County Superintendent, Mr. Mohammed Massalay and Liberia’s Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Mckindley Thomas.

President Johnson Sirleaf’s delegation to Japan includes Grand Bassa County Senator, Gbehzongar Findley; Margibi Senator Roland Kaine; and Montserrado County Representative Regina Sokan-Teah. The Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs as well as the Superintendent of Sinoe County, Sylvester Grigsby, are also traveling with the President to Japan.

During the President’s absence from the country, the Cabinet will administer the Affairs of State, under the Chairmanship of Justice Minister, Frances Johnson Morris.

The President returns to the country on March 16.

We are also pleased to inform you that the President has named members of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Broadcasting System.  The Board will be headed by Mr. Johnny A. McClain as Chairman.
Members of the LBS Board are the Ministers of Finance, Justice and Planning. Other members are Mr. Chauncey Cooper; Mr. A. Moses Rhoulac; Mrs. Fannie Cole Weefur; Etweeda Cooper; and David Daniels.
The Board has been instructed to undertake a full investigation and report to the President on the current state of affairs at the Institution.
Finally, the President is pleased to appoint Mr. E. Sumo Jones, Sr. Ambassador-designate.

Thanks for your attention.  I will now take your questions.