8 May 2013

Liberia: Ngafuan on Liberia's 'Tremendous Progress' - Extols United States for Continued Support

Photo: Liberia Government
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (file photo).

Standing on the podium of the revered US Institute of Peace Tuesday, May 7, 2013, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan must have been a proud envoy from Liberia. The records and statistics are commonplace at home and the target partners need not too many words to get wooed. In a three-page statement, perhaps the shortest of his recent speeches, the Liberian Foreign Affairs Minister accentuated the progress his government has made, and the audience visibly nodded, as The Analyst reports.

"Today by convening a successful session of the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue, we have erected another strong bulwark in the consolidation of our already excellent bilateral relationship".

Those were words of Foreign Minister Ngafuan when he spoke at a US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue hosted by the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, yesterday.

The Liberian Foreign Minister, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Government and people of Liberia, thanked U.S. President Barrack Obama, Secretary of State, John Kerry, Under-Secretary, Wendy Sherman and all members of U.S. Government for convening what he described as an indisputably very successful Inaugural Session of the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue.

He noted that Liberia is at a crossroad, listing the country's last seven years of progress made stressing, "While recognizing the progress we have achieved over the last seven years, there is no gainsaying that the challenges we must confront in the present and the future are colossal and daunting."

The Foreign Minister spoke in Washington, DC on Tuesday May 7, 2013 at the climax of the Inaugural Edition of the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue. Minister Ngafuan headed the Liberian delegation to the Dialogue, which includes Finance Minister Amara Konneh, Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth, Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo, Commerce Minister Axel Addy, Information Minister Lewis Brown and the Executive Director of the National Investment Commission (NIC) Ciata Bishop.

While hailing Liberia's traditional ally as a strong and reliable partner to Liberia's development agenda, Liberia's Foreign Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, has thanked the United States for the holding of a successful US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue.

"The United States has been a strong and reliable partner of Liberia since the founding of Liberia nearly two centuries ago, and has assisted immensely in Liberia's transition from war to peace and economic recovery", Minister Ngafuan stated during Tuesday's event in Washington D, C.

He then listed several positive US assistance to Liberia, including U.S. support to the rebuilding of the Liberian Army and Coast Guard, the cancellation of Liberia's huge debt overhang, the consolidation of the culture of democracy; the restoration of social services; the building of infrastructure; the rebuilding of public sector capacity; the improvement of public financial management, and a host of significant interventions through the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Threshold Program and the soon to be rolled out Compact Program,  among others.

Both Liberian Delegations and US climaxed the event by affirming their shared commitment to deepening bilateral cooperation on a range of issues.

The Agriculture and Food Security working group was co-chaired by Liberia's Minister of Agriculture, Florence Chenoweth, Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy/U.S. Special Representative for Global Food Security Jonathan Shrier, and USAID Bureau for Food Security Assistant Administrator Paul Weisenfeld.

Liberia's Minister of Lands, Mines, and Energy Patrick Sendolo and the U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Energy Bureau, Amos Hochstein co-chaired the discussion on the Energy and Power Infrastructure Working Group.

Recognizing the important role the agriculture sector can play in rebuilding Liberia's economy, the two countries reviewed and discussed potential reforms to address existing policy, infrastructure, and institutional constraints. The working group recognized that ensuring efficient land use, enhancing the availability of high quality inputs, and easing farm-to-market access are key steps to promoting private sector-led development in Liberia's agriculture sector.   The United States and Liberia also committed to continued collaboration to improve Liberia's policy-enabling environment for food and nutrition security through, but not limited to, the Feed the Future Initiative.

Both countries intend to increase efforts to connect private companies from their respective countries to encourage investment in Liberia's agriculture sector.

Understanding the importance of accessible, affordable and secure energy to creating domestic employment and building a prosperous Liberia, the United States and Liberia committed themselves to continued cooperation to better meet Liberia's growing power generation, transmission and distribution requirements, and build the capacity and transparency of Liberia's power and energy sector.

They also acknowledged the positive development benefits hydrocarbon revenues could bring to Liberia, if commercially viable quantities are discovered as both governments planed to work together to lay the foundation for an inclusive, well-governed, and regulated oil and gas sector that will encourage future investment

A follow-up to the Dialogue will be convened in Monrovia before the end of the year to take stock of tangible progress made since the inaugural session and take up other areas that are critical and central to Liberia's progress including Human Development.

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