documentBy Phillip Kurata
Washington — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have signed an agreement cementing long-term diplomatic and economic cooperation between the United States and Liberia.
"Today, we are taking another important step to deepen the partnership between our nations and to support Liberia as it continues down the path of democratic and economic reform," Clinton said. "The partnership dialogue we are about to sign will expand the cooperation between our countries and ensure high-level engagement for years to come."
Sirleaf called the partnership dialogue "an historic achievement ... that will cement the strategic cooperation between our two countries for generations to come regardless of the occupants of the White House or the Executive Mansion."
The U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue has three components: agriculture and food security, energy and power infrastructure, and human development, according to a State Department press release.
The agriculture and food security element will focus on helping Liberia's farmers use their land more effectively and get their crops to markets more efficiently. Improved agriculture and food security will improve the health and increase the prosperity of the Liberian people, Clinton said. Private investment is needed in this area, she added.
Regarding energy and power infrastructure, Clinton said, "Access to affordable, reliable energy is essential to creating jobs and sparking growth that helps build a strong economy." Improvements will be sought in all aspects of the energy sector -- generation, transmission and distribution -- as well as in a regulatory environment that welcomes private investment.
With regard to human development, Clinton said efforts will be made to expand access to education and employment for Liberians. The goal is to give Liberians a chance to improve themselves and their families and to make a contribution to their nation, she said.
Clinton said the last decade has been a success story for Liberia as it has made tremendous commitments to economic and political reforms.
Sirleaf said the signing of the partnership dialogue institutionalizes the long-standing bilateral relationship between the United States and Liberia. Sirleaf is the first elected female head of state in Africa and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end Liberia's civil war.
"We recognize that this will not just be a job for our two governments, but also for the business communities of both countries and other stakeholders in Liberia," Sirleaf said. "History will show that your support and the investment of the U.S. government and the American people in Liberia will return significant dividends."