President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf departed the country today on a five-day official visit to the Republic of Botswana. Her visit is at the invitation of her counterpart, His Excellency Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana.
While in Botswana, the two leaders will hold official talks and will discuss bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern. During the visit, President Sirleaf will tour a number of institutions, including the Otse Police College, the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute and the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. She will also visit the Jwaneng Mine, the Diamond Trading Company, and will perform the official opening of the Oodi College of Applied Arts and Technology on May 22.
Botswana and Liberia share a long history of strong bilateral relations and fraternal bonds of friendship. The official visit will serve to further strengthen and deepen these relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries and their peoples.
Last August, His Excellency President Ian Khama paid a two-day visit to Liberia. During that visit, the two Heads of State discussed broad areas of cooperation including the mining industry, particularly the diamond sector. Botswana, as a leading producer of diamonds, has agreed to work with Liberia in setting up structures to help expand the diamond trade in the country for the benefit of the people.
President Ian Khama further indicated his country's willingness to assist Liberia and volunteered to provide training for members of the Liberia National Police to help improve their skills.
The Department of Police of Botswana then undertook a needs assessment visit to Liberia which resulted in the training of thirteen Liberian police officers at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Botswana recently.
At the end of the official visit to Botswana, the two Heads of State will sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
Before returning home, President Sirleaf will join Heads of State and Government from Rwanda, Namibia, Mozambique, and Ministers from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Norway, as well as global leaders from the public and private sectors and civil society at the Inaugural Summit for Sustainable Development in Africa, being hosted by the Government of Botswana, in partnership with the non-governmental organization Conservation International (CI) on May 24-25 in Gaborone.
Other institutions attending the Summit include the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, World Vision, MacArthur Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Coco-Cola Company, Walmart, Woodworths, and other key participants.
The Summit is expected to be a landmark effort to establish a new development roadmap as well as launch partnerships that will chart a path toward sustainable development on the continent. President Sirleaf will make Introductory Remarks at the Opening Programme on "The Importance of Natural Capital to Development."
While President Sirleaf is away from the country, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Christiana Tah, will coordinate the affairs of State in consultation with the Vice President, Dr. Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.