Monrovia — -Visiting British Minister Hails ‘Significant' UK-Liberia Relations
The British Government has officially reopened its Embassy near Monrovia following 22 years of absence resulting from the Liberian civil conflict.
Performing the official dedicatory ceremony on behalf of the British Government was British Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Mark Simmonds who was accompanied by the Liberian Foreign Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan and the British Ambassador accredited near the Liberian capital, Ferus Cochrane-Dyet.
Mr. Simmonds who is currently paying a two-day official working to Liberia visit described the re-opening of the British Embassy as a significant step in building the already excellent relationship that Liberia and the United Kingdom (UK) already has, importantly in deepening economic and trade ties.
“I also just want to reiterate the importance that the United Kingdom attaches to the relationship with Liberia”, the British Minister stated during the ceremony held at the new British Embassy in Sinkor.
A Foreign Ministry release says Mr. Simmonds disclosed that there are only a few number of embassies the UK Government is opening across the world, and that his Government wanted to make sure that Liberia was one of those: “So, this is a significant step for the United Kingdom. I'm delighted to be here, I'm delighted to dedicate this new British Embassy”.
The British Minister who is also the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State disclosed that the UK government will be rendering some assistance to Liberia, including building the capacities of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberian National Police (LNP). He added that his government will be encouraging more UK businesses to invest in Liberia which would contribute to the economic development and growth that is taking place in Liberia.
In response, Foreign Minister Ngafuan hailed Britain's contributions to the bilateral ties between Liberia and Great Britain as he recalled Britain's historic recognition of Liberia's independence as the first country to do so.
The Liberian Foreign Minister remains certain that with the reopening of the British Embassy in Liberia the British government will now put on its front-burner the issuance of British visas here, something the British Minister himself acknowledged in his speech delivered Monday night at the Royal Grand Hotel in Sinkor.
Counting other efforts by the British government that have helped to enhance Liberia-British relations, Minister Ngafuan continued, “This year, we have been honored by two significant visits: one, by your Prime Minister, the Honorable Dave Cameron who came in February as a Co-chair of the UN High Level Panel of Experts to craft the Post-2015 development agenda and today, another high level visit by you.”
“The fact that you didn't have an embassy here; we felt that we needed to bridge that gap. And now we are very happy that you've responded and we have a physical presence of Great Britain in Liberia”, Minister Ngafuan stated.
He named the resumption of flights by British Airways to Monrovia, the operations of British businesses in Liberia and last year's Liberia-UK Business Forum that was held in London, the UK as some of the testimonies of the cordial relationship between both countries.
Mr. Simmonds is expected to end his two-day visit with the holding of discussions with other senior government officials aimed at reinforcing bilateral relations between Liberia and the UK and review UK's support to Liberia.