President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Meets Bush

Friday, 19th October 2007
Presidents George Bush and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the White House in Washington, USA.
Presidents George Bush and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the White House in Washington, USA.
Photo Credit: Eric Draper/White House
Washington, D.C. - USA - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has held talks in Washington with United States President George W. Bush.  The meeting, which lasted more than half an hour, was held in the Oval Office of the White House.  According to a dispatch from Presidential Press Secretary, Cyrus Wleh Badio, who traveled with the President, both leaders discussed bilateral relations between the United States and Liberia.

At a Press briefing later with White House correspondents, President Bush thanked the Liberian President for her strong spirit and her deep desire to enhance democracy and improve the lives of all Liberians.

The U.S. promised to work towards ensuring Liberia’s huge debt burden is settled. Debt relief for Liberia, President Bush noted, is part of his administration’s agenda. He said the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury will be talking to the International Monetary Fund at its meeting this week in Washington about Liberia's debt burden.

President Bush also praised the Liberian President’s commitment to universal education and promised that his government will provide support for Liberia's educational sector. “The United States believes that boys and girls should get an education not only in America but around the world.”

The U.S. President expressed concern that children were dying due to malaria, and promised to set up a malaria initiative in Liberia to tackle the problem. Accordingly, President Bush said a team will be visiting Liberia shortly to establish the malaria initiative throughout the country to help reduce the rate of deaths among young children.

President Bush also announced the return of Peace Corps to Liberia shortly to help train Liberian educators, adding “the reason why we feel comfortable doing this is because of the leadership of this strong person right here,” pointing to the Liberian President.

For her part, President Sirleaf thanked President Bush for the support his administration continues to render Liberia. The President attributed the steady progress of her government to the support her administration continues to receive from the President and Mrs. Bush, as well as the State Department, the National Security Council, the Treasury Department as well as United States Ambassador, Donald Booth.  She spoke of the challenges that continue to face the country, but assured President Bush that Liberia will work towards becoming a post-conflict success story.

The Liberian leader also thanked the U.S. President for including the country on the special education initiative that would benefit three other African countries as well as the granting of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to Liberians living in the United States, as they prepare their for eventual return.

The President praised the role the U.S. President played in returning the country to peace, adding, “we want to be part of your legacy; we want you to look back and say, when I was there, I helped Liberia to be a success, to come out of the ashes of war and be a successful economy, responding to the needs of the people.”

Following the White House meeting, the President held talks with the Chair of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey, Congressman Jessie Jackson, and Rhode Island Senator Patrick Kennedy, who has been instrumental in ensuring an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Liberians.