President Sirleaf Arrives in Oslo, Norway at the Start of 2-day Official Visit

Sunday, 14th October 2007

Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has arrived in Oslo, Norway at the start of a two-day official visit. The President was received upon arrival by Norway’s International Development Minister, Mr. Erik Solheim, who expressed profound appreciation to the President for honoring an invitation to visit his country. Mr. Solheim said he looked forward to the fruitful exchange of ideas for the mutual benefit of both countries.

The President, who will on Monday deliver the keynote address at a conference on the “New Image of Africa,” said on Norwegian national television in an interview upon arrival, that too often the positive developments in Africa are overtshadowed by news of unrest and conflict. The President said she was pleased to address the Conference, because the world sometimes misses the fact that development in Africa is taking place at an accelerated rate. African countries, the Liberian leader maintained, are adopting sound economic policies which have brought hope to the continent.

According to a dispatch from Oslo, quoting Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Wleh Badio, the President is meeting with Heads of International non-governmental organizations on Sunday evening, ahead of a meeting on Monday morning with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.  The Liberian President will also on Monday be received in audience by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Haakon at the Royal Palace in Oslo, ahead of discussions with the President of the Norwegian Parliament, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, who is also speaker of Parliament.

The Liberian leader is this evening guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Norway’s Minister for International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim.

President Johnson Sirleaf departs Oslo late Monday afternoon for Belgium where she will deliver the keynote address at the 4th Diamond Conference taking place in Antwerp from October15-16.
The two-day Antwerp Conference is focusing on the shift of power in the diamond industry and the increasing demand by producer countries that diamonds be sorted and processed in countries where they are mined. The countries are also calling for the adoption of legislations that will make the 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; 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 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.