On the second day of her official visit to Kuwait, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday opened the new Embassy of the Republic of Liberia near Kuwait City, heralding the start of a strengthened bilateral relationship between the State of Kuwait and Liberia.
In remarks made at the opening ceremony, the President said she was pleased that the relationship had been "reactivated," and that the two countries could now "begin to rebuild upon that historic and important relationship," and together promote the development of Africa and strong partnership and relationship between the Arab States and the African continent.
The President expressed thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of Kuwait for the new diplomatic facilities that will enable Liberia to promote its partnership with Kuwait. The signing, the previous evening, of an Agreement establishing a Joint Commission and a Memorandum of Understanding for Bilateral Consultations aimed at promoting this partnership.
The President added: "Through those instruments, and with our Ambassador and his staff who will be working here, using these facilities, we hope to demonstrate to you the friendship that we feel so strongly and so dearly, deep in our hearts, for the cooperation which we have received from Kuwait over the many years of this relationship."
Also making statements and offering toasts at the opening ceremony was Liberia's Ambassador to Kuwait, H.E. Konah K. Blackett; and Hon. Khalid Al-Jarallah, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait. Mr. Dorsey Hansford, Minister Plenipotentiary, delivered the invocation.
The President, her delegation and other guests then toured the spacious two-storey, fully furnished and equipped Chancery, which she described as "very comfortable premises." The Government of Kuwait agreed to provide diplomatic facilities for Liberia for five years, including the Chancery, the Ambassador's Residence, three apartments, vehicles and more.
The President and her party next visited a new shopping complex, the 360 Mall, equipped with its own amusement park and what was described as the biggest indoor vertical garden containing 22,500 plants of some 100 species. The President and her delegation were treated to a sumptuous lunch at the Palms Beach Hotel Restaurant, overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
President Holds Talks with Oil and Finance Ministers, Kuwait Fund
In the afternoon, the President held talks with the Kuwaiti Oil Minister, Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Sabah. The discussion centered on Kuwait's participation in Liberia's deep-water oil and gas exploration and other strategic cooperation. The Oil Minister offered to assist Liberia in its high-power generation cost through an oil credit arrangement.
Details of such credit and investment opportunities will be undertaken by a mission from the Kuwaiti Oil Ministry, to be worked out as soon as possible. President Sirleaf said she hoped to encourage a Kuwaiti trade and investment mission to visit Liberia soon. Also participating in the meeting were the Minister of Planning & Economic Affairs, Mr. Amara Konneh; and the Energy Advisor to the President, Mr. Christopher Neyor.
In her meeting with the Kuwaiti Finance Minister, Mr. Mustafa Al-Shamali, the President discussed Liberia's indebtedness to the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, and how to resolve the matter of an outstanding $12 million loan for road construction. The Minister stated that once the matter of the debt was resolved, Kuwait was prepared to assist Liberia with its priority projects. The President mentioned projects in Lofa and Margibi Counties that needed to be addressed immediately.
The President's final meeting was with the Director General of the Kuwait Fund, Mr. Abdulwahab Ahmad Al-Bader, where the issue of Liberia's indebtedness to the Fund was discussed in depth. Should Liberia agree to reschedule that debt, Mr. Al-Bader said, the Fund was ready to push ahead with funding for new projects for Liberia.
On Monday evening, the Prime Minister, H.H. Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, hosted a dinner banquet in honor of the Liberian President.
President Sirleaf and her delegation are scheduled to depart Kuwait City on Tuesday morning, arriving back in Liberia later that afternoon, after a most successful three-day visit to the State of Kuwait.