President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday 9th January received the credentials of the New Chinese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Zhao Yanbo and the Italian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Alfonso Di Riso at the Credentials Hall, State House, Freetown.
Receiving the Chinese Ambassador on the one hand, President Koroma described the People's Republic as a great friend of Sierra Leone. He noted that China's entry into the United Nations family and its assumption of its rightful place as a premier nation in international affairs was stoutly supported by Sierra Leone under the founder of the All People's Congress, President Dr Siaka Stevens, saying that it was a bold step then.
"This is a friendship visibly demonstrated all over our country by appropriate Chinese-built infrastructure, including bridges, government buildings, stadiums and roads. In recent years, this friendship is being enhanced by Chinese private sector investments in agriculture and mining", President Koroma said.
The head of state told Ambassador Yanbo that China's provision of training opportunities for Sierra Leoneans, and the massive support for government's youth programs, a new airport at Mamamah and the hydro-electricity programs are very much laudable. "On my state visit to the People's Republic of China last year, I felt honored to witness first hand the People's Republic massive achievements, and the warmth and friendship of its government and People. My meetings with President Xi Jinping, and the Vice President were insightful, friendly and supportive of our strides as a nation", he added.
President Koroma entreated the Chinese diplomat to use his tenure in Sierra Leone to strengthen the already cordial and fruitful bilateral ties between the two countries.
Welcoming the new Italian Ambassador to the country, President Koroma paid glowing tribute to Italy for the cancellation of debts owed them by Sierra Leone, and support for "our health projects, religious and moral education and peace-keeping initiatives."
The president said that Sierra Leone's commitment to sustaining democracy and economic growth is unshakable, and emphasized that "This commitment is the most effective way to ensuring prosperity and our continued contribution to world peace and stability". "Our national development program", he said, "the Agenda for Prosperity enshrines this commitment. We count on our economic and technical cooperation with Italy to move forward this Agenda".
President Koroma called on the Italian Private Sector to be part of the ongoing growth taking place in Sierra Leone as the country's economy is now amongst the fastest growing in the world. "We believe this will enhance the sustainability of our relationship to the mutual benefit of the peoples of both countries", he ended.
The Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Yanbo on his part, described Sierra Leone as a beautiful and richly-endowed land with industrious and talented people, and with huge potential for development. "We applaud the achievements you have made and sincerely wish you fresh progress on the way forward to national rejuvenation", he said, and assured President Koroma that he will exert his best efforts to cement and develop the friendly relations and cooperation between China and Sierra Leone.
Alfonso Di Riso, Italian Ambassador to Sierra Leone assured President Koroma of his commitment to work closely with all the competent departments of government in further expanding and strengthening the already existing very good and friendly relations between Sierra Leone and Italy. "Italy is here to help Sierra Leone in such an endeavour and is committed to cooperate as much as possible to encourage and facilitate sustainable development", he stressed.
The ceremony was attended by the Hon. Vice President, Alhaji Chief Sidique Sam Sumana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Samura Kamara and other cabinet ministers, senior government officials and members of the protocol division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.