President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has praised the Liberia Football Association (LFA), players and technical staff of the National Team, Lone Star, for the level of unity within the team, and wished them well on their mission to Dakar, Senegal.
Lone Star players were scheduled to depart Monrovia for Dakar later on Thursday, where they will take on the Lions of Teranga in the first leg of a 2014 FIFA Football World Cup qualifier on June 2. The return leg will be played in Monrovia two weeks later.
Receiving the National Team delegation in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry, the Liberian President said she is impressed with the current level of preparation and is hopeful that the team will qualify for the 2013 African Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup tournaments. "It is important that the National Team strives to maintain an impressive status on both the FIFA and CAF Rankings," President Sirleaf told the players. She promised to accord the team a special treat upon its return from Dakar, especially if the outcome of the upcoming game is good.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Team Captain Anthony Laffor commended the Liberian leader for meeting with the National Team, and assured President Sirleaf and the Liberian people of good performance in Dakar and in the rest of the competition. He stressed that National Team players are seriously committed to the cause of the country.
Also speaking at the occasion, the President of the Liberia Football Association, Mr. Musa Bility, who led the delegation to the Foreign Ministry, thanked the President for allowing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan to lead the delegation, along with the Minister of Transport, Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, and other officials of government to Dakar.
Also on Thursday, a high-powered delegation from African Iron Ore Group, Ltd. paid a courtesy call on President Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry office. The delegation, led by its Chairman, Mr. Ethelbert J.L. Cooper, a Liberian, included Vice Chairman Ousmane Kane, Project Coordinator Mark Ogden, and Head of Corporate Development Ewen Wigley.
Receiving the delegation, the Liberian leader welcomed the group to Liberia and said the Government is always pleased whenever private sector visitors come to explore business possibilities here. She recounted her knowledge about the work of African Iron Ore Group Ltd., on the continent and around the world.
Speaking further, President Sirleaf recounted the efforts of the government aimed at reactivating the iron ore mining sector since taking office in 2006. "All of the actions we've undertaken," the President said, "have led to the arrival of groups such as China Union, BHP Billiton, amongst others, and the first exportation of iron ore from Liberia since the civil war by ArcelorMittal, last year."
For his part, the Group's Chairman, Mr. Cooper, gave an analysis of the global iron ore situation and indicated that the interest of his Group in Liberia is to initiate an operation that will make impact in building systems, expand the economy, as well as help fast-track national development. He informed President Sirleaf about the availability of a specific Liberian proposal on the iron ore sector that will seek to achieve the indicated goal.
Responding, President Sirleaf described the delegation's concept as good, but urged them to institute the proper mechanisms to ensure equity and avoid the monopolization of the sector.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Patrick Sendolo, who is charged with leading a process of ensuring an engagement with the African Iron Ore Ltd., along with other government actors in the mining sector.