Oslo and Antwerp Await President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Friday, 12th October 2007
Oslo, Norway - All is now set in Oslo, Norway to welcome President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who arrives here on Sunday, at the start of a two-day official visit. While in Oslo, the Liberian leader will hold talks with Norwegian government officials, including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. President Sirleaf will also converse with the Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland. The Liberian leader will also be received in audience on Monday by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Haakon, at the Royal Palace in Oslo.

A dispatch from Oslo, quoting Press Secretary Cyrus Wleh Badio, said the Liberian leader will also meet with the King of Norway and discuss with Norwegian officials bilateral relations between the two countries. Norway is contributing $8.5 million U.S. dollars to Liberia’s Emergency Power Program. The amount will provide seven megawatts of power and construct a 22-KV medium voltage distribution network in Paynesville. Norway is also interested in Liberia’s long-term hydro-development. More than 95 percent of this European country’s energy supply derives from hydro energy.

As part of the visit, the President will also deliver the keynote address at an international conference on the “New Image of Africa,” which takes place on Monday in Oslo. The Liberian leader is also scheduled to meet with heads of international non-governmental organizations operating in Liberia, including Canadian NGOs.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will on Monday address a conference on diamonds.  The two-day conference which convenes in the Belgian port city of Antwerp on October 15 & 16, will focus on the shift of power in the diamond industry, and in particular the emerging strength of the producer countries and their determination to ensure that more diamonds are sorted and processed in the nation where they are mined. Concurrently, discussions will also revolve around the passing of legislation that will make this phenomenon a statutory obligation.

Other speakers at the conference include the Chairman of the Kimberley Process, Karel Kovanda; the Deputy Prime Minister of Angola, Aguinaldo Jaime; the President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, Ernest Blom; a humanitarian, social activist and pop star, Bob Geldof; as well as South Africa’s Deputy President, Madam Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Botswana’s President Festus Mogae, and South African President Thabo Mbeki have all been invited to the conference as guest speakers.

President Johnson Sirleaf departs Brussels on Tuesday for the United States, where she will hold talks with United States President George Bush. The President will also be the guest of honor at this year’s annual fundraising event of the international non-governmental organization working in Liberia, Africare.  A number of fund-raising events are expected to be spearheaded by the Liberian Chief Executive while in the United States, including a fundraiser for the Liberia Education Trust (LET) and a volunteer health organization known as Health Education and Relief Through Teaching (HEARTT). The organization has rendered voluntary health services to centers in Liberia including the J.F.K. Medical Hospital in Monrovia. While in Washington, the Liberian leader will also meet with officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well the President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick.