The NEWS (Monrovia)

6 July 2007

Liberia: Johnson Sirleaf 'Offers' Territory For Africom Headquarters

Monrovia — Since the announcement of the creation of AFRICOM, the new military command post in Africa by the United States, the Liberian government has been pressing for the establishment of Africom's headquarters in the country.

There had been behind the scene discussions within official circles on the issue. Until Wednesday, the Liberian government had not made a decision.

Now, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has made a decision officially 'offering' Liberian territory to be used for the establishment of a U.S.

Speaking Wednesday at a reception marking the 231st Independence Anniversary of the United States, President Sirleaf said "Liberia, the U.S. historic ally, has stood resolutely with the United States, through good times and bad, and is offering its territory as it has done in the past, for the establishment of AFRICOM headquarters."

The Chief Executive indicated that historical and strategic reasons make Liberia an ideal location for this important American initiative that will undoubtedly have a most beneficial effect on the West African sub-region, as well as the entire continent.

President Sirleaf welcomed the new United States policy towards Africa's security and development as reflected in the proposed establishment of a new Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The Liberian leader described the move as not only a project of U.S. interest and power, but as a new approach to assisting African countries that are committed to democratic governance, sustainable development and improving the quality of life of their people, in a secured environment, and with the cooperation and support of the United States.

President Johnson-Sirleaf also described the United States decision to construct a new Embassy complex in Monrovia and as well as other significant support Liberia receives from institutions, foundations, Universities and individuals as vivid expressions and indications of the new mutually beneficial partnership that is beginning to evolve between Liberia and the United States of America.

The Liberian leader also made particular reference to the financial support being given by the United States government towards the country's development.

President Sirleaf then lauded the U.S. government's support toward debt relief and disclosed that Liberia will shortly benefit from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation for development assistance, having met most of the benchmarks.

The President congratulated the government and people of the United States on the occasion marking the 231st independence anniversary, and spoke highly of the partnership existing between the two countries.

President Johnson Sirleaf lauded the United States government for its role in ending the civil conflict in Liberia and its continued support toward the country's reconstruction efforts.

In a recent article written by President Johnson Sirleaf and posted on allafrica.com website, the Liberian leader said Africom should be seen as a recognition of the growing importance of Africa to U.S. national security interests, as well as recognition that long time African security lies in empowering African partners to develop healthy security relations.

"If Africom aims to use its "soft power" Mandate to develop a stable environment in which civil society can flourish and the quality of life for Africans can be improved, African nations should work with Africom to achieve their own development and security goals..." the President emphasized.

According to the Chief Executive, to achieve the greatest possible results in development, security, and governance, this must be the model for donor assistance in the future, helping governments that are willing to help themselves.

In a brief statement marking Independence Day, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Donald Booth, praised the progress taking place in Liberia and said his government remains committed and supportive of Liberia's development goals.

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