Executive Mansion Upbeat About Bush's Recent Visit--Lauds Liberians for Warm Reception

Monday, 25th February 2008
February 25, 2008 Press Briefing

Members of the Press:

  • On behalf of the President, we want to extend our thanks and appreciation to all Liberians and foreign residents who came out in huge numbers to welcome President George W. Bush and his delegation to Liberia last Thursday. The visit was, indeed, a success. President Bush and  delegation left Liberia very impressed and moved by the reception they received while in Liberia.
We, however, want to apologize for the inconvenience some of our citizens and officials, including lawmakers, may have experienced as a result of the stringent security measures put in place by the Secret Service to ensure the safety of the VIPs. The security measures, it may interest you, also inconvenienced the VIPs themselves, as President Sirleaf and Bush were made to walk up the stairs up to the 6th floor of the Foreign Ministry, because the elevators, in the view of the American Security Service, were not safe enough to accommodate the VIPs.  Of course, President Bush, later following the talks, decided that he and President Sirleaf would take the elevators, afterall. Hence, they did; and thankfully, it all went well.
During their one-on-one talks, our President discussed with her American counterpart a number of issues, bordering on security, infrastructure and employment.

As a result of the discussions, President Bush has assured President Johnson Sirleaf that America will continue to provide funding for the United Nations peace keeping operations in Liberia, as well as training for our security sector reform.  Already, the United States provides nearly US $200 million annually in assessed contributions to fund the UN Mission in Liberia. The commitment by President Bush to provide more assistance for our security sector reform is in addition to the US $139 million the United States has provided between Fiscal Years 2004-2007 toward governmentís reform program of our military.
Regarding infrastructure, President Sirleaf did discuss with President Bush our energy sector, particularly the damaged Mt. Coffee Hydro Plant and the need to have it up and running. They also discussed the poor state of our roads and efforts that must be taken to improve our road network.
The President also discussed with the United States President the need to create more jobs for our people through the private sector, the main engine of growth, to propel the Liberian economy.

President Bush holds similar views, and is of the belief that the United States can, as it has always done, play a leading role in helping the Liberian government tackle some of these pressing problems. He has now gone back to reflect and consult with other government officials what needs to be done to help President Johnson Sirleaf and her government achieve these objectives. President Sirleaf has every confidence that President Bush will act appropriately an in due course on the issues discussed.

  • The President welcomes the signing last week of the Amended Concession Agreement between Government and Firestone.  It may have taken a little longer to conclude, but it was surely worth the long deliberations.
The agreement is another manifestation of the Presidentís determination to ensure that the country and its people reap the benefits from foreign investments. We have available the matrix, and will be glad to share it with you. There you will notice differences between the 2005 Concession Agreement and the just signed agreement. The Firestone Agreement will serve as a model for future agreements affecting the countryís rubber industry, based on their specific situations.