The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: U.S.-Liberia Governments Strengthen Ties

The United States Government and Liberian Government on Tuesday signed a partnership dialogue that will expand the cooperation between the two countries and ensure high-level engagement for years to come. In a brief remarks before signing the documents at the Department of State in Washington DC, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in indicated that the signing of the partnership dialogue signifies another important step that will further deepen the partnership between both nations and to support Liberia as it continues down the path of democratic and economic reform.

The agreement establishes working groups in three key areas, including agriculture and food security; energy and power infrastructure and human development. It is expected that the agriculture and food security will help Liberia's farmers use their land more effectively and get their crops to markets more efficiently will be critical to improving the health and prosperity of people throughout Liberia.

According to the US Secretary of State, this working group will review progress under the Feed the Future Initiative, look for new opportunities to attract private investment in the agriculture sector, and recommend policies to promote food security and better nutrition.

Commenting on energy and power infrastructure, Madam Clinton pointed out that access to affordable, reliable energy is essential to creating jobs and sparking growth that helps to build a strong economy.

"So we will take stock of outstanding needs for the generation, transmission, and distribution of energy, promote a regulatory environment that's friendly to new investments in energy, and look for ways to accelerate the development of a well-governed and inclusive energy sector", she added.

The U.S. Secretary of State also stated that the partnership document will focus on human development with a real emphasis on creating more economic opportunity for the people of Liberia to expand access to education and employment so that many more Liberians have a chance to not only better themselves and their families, but make a contribution to their nation.

"I think it is more than fair to say that this last decade has been a success story for Liberia. The people of Liberia have emerged from a time of violence and lawlessness and have made tremendous commitments to both economic and political reform," Madam Clinton said.

She recalled that the United States has stood by Liberia during its challenging process, "but I think it is also more than fair to say it was aided considerably by the leadership, the determination of a woman who understood in every fiber of her being what was at stake," she added.

Still not satisfied, the US Secretary of State said "and so, Madame President, let me, on behalf of the United States, thank you for the great progress under your leadership, pledge our continuing support and partnership and friendship to you and to the people of your country."

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf described Tuesday's launching of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue as an historic achievement, one that will cement the strategic cooperation between both countries for generations to come regardless of the occupants of the White House or the Executive Mansion.

President Sirleaf stated that the signing of the document marks an historic day for the Government and people of Liberia, the fulfillment of a wish first articulated last June for the institutionalization of the longstanding bilateral relationship between Liberia and the United States of America.

"Just seven months ago, we made the rounds among congressional and U.S. Government officials. We put forward proposals on how the United States could work with Liberia as a partner to consolidate its gains. One proposal called for the establishment of a joint United States-Liberia bi-national commission established (inaudible) in the 1960s, which aimed to ensure that the partnership would endure for 50 years or more," President Sirleaf stated.

President Sirleaf explained that the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue would allow the two countries to look at their relationship strategically with a view towards the long term and focus on those areas that encourage broad-based economic growth, including agriculture and food security, energy and power infrastructure, and human development.

"We look forward to carrying out the first meeting of the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue under the leadership of Secretary of State designate, Senator John Kerry, who also has been an essential supporter of Liberia during his long service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including his time as chairman. 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, she added".

President Sirleaf also expressed satisfaction over Liberia's recent eligibility for compact status by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which came just two years after being awarded a threshold program and seven years after the reestablishment of democracy in Liberia. She described it as one of Liberia's proudest achievements.

The Liberian leader further commended Madam Clinton for supporting Liberia's progress, championing its political process, and pushing to settle Liberia's external debt. "As we bid you farewell, I remain convinced that in this era of economic challenge, history will show that your support and the investment of the U.S. Government and the American people in Liberia will return significant dividends," she stated.

President Sirleaf assured the US Government that her administration will continue to guard the peace, promote reconciliation, build strong democratic institutions, and show good governance and transparency, and encourage broad-based economic development. "We will continue to strive to be a post-conflict success story."

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