President George Manneh Weah has held bilateral talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drain on the margins of the inaugural ceremonies of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra.
During the meeting yesterday, President Weah and the Minister stressed the importance of the strong ties that exist between their nations and discussed ways of improving the Franco-Liberian relationship. According to a press release from MICAT, Minister Le Drain thanked the Liberian government for its continuous efforts at consolidating the democratic gains the country has made under the Weah administration.
He cited the just ended Senatorial elections as a testament to the country's strong democratic credentials. The Minister also committed on behalf of the French government and people, to make "significant" investments in Liberia. He assured President Weah of French support through the strong francophone bloc it has on the African continent.
The French Foreign Minister emphasized that the presence of Air France in Liberia is symbolic of the Franco-Liberian cooperation, which he said needs to be expanded. Also discussed was the need for "practical French support" to Liberia alongside the realm of multilateral institutions, such as the IMF.
While praising the Liberian government's efforts at ensuring macroeconomic stability, Minister le Drain said that the country's huge debt stock inherited by President Weah remains a huge constraint and an economic albatross hindering development.
He said President Emmanuel Macron has committed to leading a strong effort on the part of the French government to ensure the reduction through the cancellation of Liberia's debt portfolio.
On the security front, Foreign Minister le Drain and President Weah discussed the insurrection in the Sahel region of West Africa, Maritime security in the wake of an increase in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and Liberia's role in Mali. They also explored enhanced security cooperation through a similar military pact the French have with Cote d'Ivoire. They agreed a firm commitment on this will be made when the Minister visits Liberia in April.
President Weah assured the French government through Minister le Drain that both countries have the same desire to see peace in the region and therefore welcomed the possibility of collaboration on that front. He informed the Minister that Liberia is taking "practical steps" to fight terrorism.
The Liberian Leader then highlighted the need for more support to the Armed Forces of Liberia and other security apparatuses. He said such support and cooperation should come in the form of training and logistical support. Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, Maritime Commissioner Eugene Nagbe and NPA Managing Director Bill Twehway also formed a part of the discussions.