The NEWS (Monrovia)

Liberia, Britain to Cement Ties

Liberia and Great Britain have agreed to further cement the diplomatic relations in all areas of work.

Liberia's Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan and British Minister for Africa and International Energy Mr. Mark Simmonds also agreed to work closely in the areas of energy, trade and education.

The commitment was made when the two dignitaries met during bilateral meeting on the margins of the 20th African Union Assembly currently convening in Addis Ababa, Ethioipia.

The British Minister for Africa and International Energy disclosed that a Trade delegation of British Investors is planning to visit Africa and Liberia is one of the designated countries the delegation intends to visit.

Mr. Simmonds said delegation will primarily focus on the advancement of renewable energy, noting that the energy need of Liberia is critical and strategic to economic growth and development.

In a related development, Minister Simmonds has informed his Liberian colleague that British Prime Minister David Cameron and delegation eagerly look forward to participating in the Post MDGs High Level Panel Meeting scheduled to convene in Liberia this week.

He congratulated President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her exemplary leadership and representation of Africa in the post - 2015 Development Agenda setting process.

The British Minister also expressed his country's willingness to assist and support Liberia in its manpower development drive through the educational sector.

On the issue of the prevention of sexual and gender based violence in Liberia, Minister Simmonds expressed his country's keen interest in supporting African countries to overcome this menace that continues to plague several communities on the continent.

He disclosed that Britain as Chair of the G8 will coordinate with African governments to increase support in this regard.

In response, Liberian Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan welcomed the pending visit of the British Trade Delegation and expressed optimism that the visit will yield concrete results in the mutual interest of both countries. He reiterated to his British colleague the urgent need of energy in Liberia.

The Minister further intimated that he would liaise and coordinate with the Minister responsible for energy and other relevant stakeholders in Liberia to facilitate the delegation's laudable visit.

The Liberia Foreign Minister during the bilateral discussion also confirmed the positive outcome of the UK-Liberia Investment Forum held in September 2012. He specifically cited the commencement of British Airways Flight to Liberia as a positive development coming after the Forum.

Minister Ngafuan lauded the pending reopening of the British Embassy in Liberia as it will go a long way in consolidating bilateral relationship between both countries and enhance peoples to people interaction.

The Liberian Foreign Minister delineated the efforts that have been applied by the Liberian Government in improving the education sector and deal with sexual and gender-based violence.

He welcomed the British Government's interest in assisting Liberia to deal with these challenges and promised to link the relevant ministries of Liberia with their British counterparts.

Speaking on the upcoming High Level Panel, the Liberian Foreign Minister intimated to his British counterpart that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's and the Liberian people are excited about the opportunity to host the British Prime Minister David Cameron and other world dignitaries for the upcoming post-2015 Global Agenda High Level Panel Meeting.

He stated that the Monrovia HLP Meeting will focus on the theme "national building blocks for sustained prosperity" and will attempt to clarify the critical role of economic transformation in achieving the vision of inclusive and sustainable development at the country, regional and global levels.

In another development, as the African Continent prepares to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), in May of this year, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has urged the African Union Commission to compile a comprehensive history of the founding of the OAU, with the view to capturing the monumental contributions of the African States and their leaders whose roles were pivotal in the establishment of the continental body.

Minister Ngafuan stated said that when this is done, he was certain that the leading role played and the sacrifices made by Liberia through its leader, former President William V. S. Tubman, in the formation of the OAU will be adequately captured and highlighted.

He also stated that Liberia will assist the AU Commission with as many documents and information as are available that catalogue Liberia's pioneering contributions to the birth of the OAU.

Minister Ngafuan made the statement during the plenary session of the Summit of African Union that is presently convening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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