President Sirleaf Meets New French President

Thursday, 24th May 2007
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Ellen Sirleaf.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Ellen Sirleaf.
Photo Credit: Adama B. Thompson/Executive Mansion
Paris, France - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on the last leg of her Americo-European tours, held talks with the newly-elected President of France, Mr. Nicholas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French Presidency in the capital, Paris. 

Following welcoming formalities by the French Republican Guard, the Liberian leader and her French counterpart held discussions on a number of bilateral, regional and sub-regional issues.  She briefed the French President on Government’s ongoing developmental initiatives, to include the restructuring of the national security apparatus, reconstruction of infrastructures, economic revitalization, and good governance.

The Liberian leader further spoke of the enormous challenges government continue to face in the midst of her reform agenda, especially in the area of employment and improving the livelihood of its citizenry. She then thanked the government and people of France for their continuous support towards the development efforts of the country, and expressed the hope that the recent visit of French investors to Liberia will help in further strengthening bilateral ties, while accelerating the country’s economy of the direct French investment.

According to an Executive Mansion dispatch from Paris, President Sirleaf reiterated the plead for debt waiver by developed countries, which if not aggressively approach, will impede the government’s development efforts, and thus plea for France support alongside with other friendly governments and multilateral institutions in tackling the country’s huge debt burden.

For his part, President Sarkozy expressed delight for his interaction with President Sirleaf, and said that his government fully supports any arrangements being worked out by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank (ABD) as well as other multilateral institutions and governments to addressing Liberia’s debt problem.

Mr. Sarkozy recalls an earlier meeting last year in Paris held between them when he served as Interior Minister, stating “I have always had a high regards and respect for you; I will do my part to help you succeed,”  assuring the Liberian Chief Executive. President Johnson Sirleaf is the first Head of State to meet with the French President since his inauguration a week ago.

Meanwhile, France has announced additional budgetary support for Liberia. At a follow-up session with French officials, the government announced that it would provide more than quarter of a million United States dollars towards budgetary support for Liberia; bringing a total of over 1.5million United States dollars of French budgetary support to Liberia.

France has also agreed to train and provide logistics for the New Liberian National Police Force and has accordingly requested the relevant Liberian government parastatal to submit to its Mission accredited near Monrovia, a comprehensive list of police priorities for consideration. “The sooner, the better,” the French leader concluded.

Friday’s meeting with the new French President follows a meeting on Wednesday in Berlin with the German Chancellor, Mrs. Angela Merkel.  President Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday delivered the keynote address at the African Partnership Forum, which ended in Berlin. The President addressed a number of gender issues affecting the African continent and challenge for the need to take more concerted action to improve the conditions of African women in a more holistic manner.

President Johnson Sirleaf discussion with the French President was attended by Liberia’s Ambassador to France, Mr. McKinley Thomas, and Lands, Mines & Energy Minister, Dr. Eugene Shannon.

The Liberian leader and delegation are expected to return to the country on Friday.