LIBERIA, US CONCLUDE LANDMARK PARTNERSHIP DIALOGUE

Foreign Minister H. E. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, and Head of the U. S. Delegation Ambassador Thomas Shannon signing the Joint Statement at the end of the second substantive meeting of the U.S.- Liberia Partnership Dialogue at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Minister H. E. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, and Head of the U. S. Delegation Ambassador Thomas Shannon signing the Joint Statement at the end of the second substantive meeting of the U.S.- Liberia Partnership Dialogue at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Photo Credit: Public Affairs

The Governments of Liberia and the United States of America have successfully concluded the 2nd Round of high level discussions of the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue in Monrovia, with key emphasis being placed on Energy and Power Infrastructures and Agriculture and Food Security.

 

The Dialogue ran from the 3rd to the 4th of March with a joint statement signed by both governments aimed at renewing their call to deepening the major discussions with the focus on specific areas of cooperation and direct U.S. support within the Framework of the Partnership Dialogue.

 

The US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue intends to build upon the special historical and bilateral relations between the two countries as they institutionalize the long-standing traditional ties between them.

 

Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan led the Liberian delegation while Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, led the U.S. delegation.

 

During the meeting held at the Foreign Ministry’s C. C. Dennis Auditorium on Capitol Hill, both heads of delegation affirmed their shared commitment to fostering deeper bilateral relations and encouraging cooperation on a variety of issues.

 

In his opening remarks, Foreign Minister Ngafuan emphasized the need for initial commitments that have laid the foundation for progress in the power and energy sectors to be carefully and constantly reviewed and updated, with the view to making them relevant to current challenges and trends

 

Stated Minister Ngafuan: “The importance of human development and education in improving and expanding the quality of the human condition cannot be over emphasized. And whilst reforms are needed to address existing policy challenges and retool the sector to improve the quality of education that both enhances the human capacity and supply quality inputs to the ever expanding labor markets, we are equally mindful of the need for fresh investments in the sector to reduce the high rate of functional illiteracy, reduce school dropout (attrition rate), improve research in the sciences and engineering, as well as strengthen our universities and institutions of higher learning, especially those at the frontline of meeting the demands of the labor market.”

 

For his part, the head of the US Delegation stated that the two governments have advanced the US-Liberia bilateral relationship; one already deeply rooted not only in their historical ties but their shared commitment to democracy, human rights and economic advancement.

 

“I am proud to announce, together with the Foreign Minister, that the United States and Liberia have agreed to a joint statement outlining our achievements here today and the next steps for each of these working groups”, Ambassador Shannon stated.

 

In a Joint Statement that concluded the Dialogue, Liberia and the United States, in recognition of the importance of Human Development in improving and expanding the human conditions, reviewed and discussed potential reforms within the sector with the goal of addressing existing policy challenges, as well as actions already taken to ensure improvements. The two governments affirmed the importance of education to Liberia’s economic, social and political development.

 

Accordingly, the United States affirmed strong support for undertaking a number of measures to help Liberia address institutional and policy issues in the education sector, and to address other key human development issues vital to the sustenance of economic growth and national recovery. 

 

Liberia and the United States also committed themselves to exerting greater efforts to connect private educational institutions, universities, foundations and companies from their respective countries to invest responsibly in Liberia’s human development sector.

 

They promised that such investment could include the reinstitution and/or resumption of important U.S. Government educational programs in Liberia, including the Fulbright Scholarship Program which many Liberians benefited from in times past.

 

Under the signatures of Foreign Minister Ngafuan and Ambassador Shannon, both countries recognized the importance of agriculture in increasing food security and nutrition, and rebuilding Liberia’s economy.

 

The Working Group reiterated that in order to ensure efficient land use and address land tenure reform, greater efforts must be exerted to improve the availability of high quality inputs and ease farm-to-market access, which are key steps to promoting private sector-led development in Liberia’s agriculture sector. 

The two sides reviewed various joint initiatives in the sector and pledged to continue collaboration to improve Liberia’s policy-enabling environment for food security and nutrition, including, but not limited to, the Feed the Future initiative.

 

The two countries also agreed to strengthen their cooperation to improve Liberia’s power and energy sector. They also affirmed the importance of expanding Liberian’s access to education and employment opportunities, and noted the plan to meet again in 2014. 

 

Both governments then committed to convening the third session of the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue in Washington, D.C., later in 2014, and intend to follow-up on the action items discussed in the Human Development and Agriculture and Food Security Working Groups during the intervening months. 

 

Talks on the Partnership Dialogue began January 15, 2013 in Washington D.C., when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton never use this funny jargon again signed the landmark Statement of Intentestablishing the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue. Its Inaugural Meeting was held four months later in Washington. D.C. when on May 7, 2013 the two countries committed to continued collaboration to improve Liberia’s policy enabling environment for food security and nutrition through laudable interventions including from the US Government’s Feed The Future Initiative.