-French Foreign Minister Le Drihan discloses

From l-r: President Weah and Le Draihan in Monrovia, Liberia

MONROVIA – French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drihan has disclosed that the Government and people of France are discussing and placed Liberia as a priority country to receive support from that country.

Women Voices newspaper reported Friday, that it had been reliably informed that France Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Drihan, had arrived in Monrovia, Liberia for a two-day visit.

Mr. Le Drihan, France Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, arrived in Liberia Thursday and stayed in the country up to Friday, 11 June.

His last week visit was the first by a French foreign minister to Liberia in more than 40 years.

According to highly-placed governmental sources, as at the time this paper went to press last Thursday, Minister Le Drihan was to be received by Liberian president George Weah and was scheduled to meet with Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah.

These meetings, according to our sources, would have provided an opportunity to discuss the strengthening of French-Liberian relations, notably with respect to development, the economy, security and French language and culture.

Minister Le Drihan, according to our sources, also discussed regional issues with his interlocutors, as well as the role Liberia can play, notably within ECOWAS and the African Union.

Howbeit, Women Voices is reliably informed by highly-placed Liberian government sources that in a meeting with president Weah, the French minister of foreign affairs divulged that Liberia is being discussed and placed as a priority country to receive support from the Government and people of France.

The sources further divulged that French Foreign Minister Le Drihan pledged his country’s support to Liberia.

The first visit of a French minister to Monrovia in 40 years enabled President Weah to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations.

The two men inaugurated the new Alliance Française de Monrovia site  and discussed the possibility of cooperation in matters of security within the framework of a military pact similar to that concluded between France and the Ivory Coast.

The Alliance Française de Monrovia reflects the strengthening of relations between Liberia and the French-speaking world.

“We want to act together, and I know that it is also your concern, against the threats posed by the progression of terrorist groups from the Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea, and the inauguration near Abidjan of the international academy for the fight against terrorism contributes to these partnership actions, which are essential in the fight against these tragedies.,” Africanews quoted Jean-Yves Le Drihan, as saying.

For his part, President Weah, according to an Executive Mansion statement, hailed the relationship subsisting between Liberia and France, and underscored the importance of Liberia’s relations with the Republic of France, stating that in recent years have seen “our engagements heightened, even at summit level.”

The Liberian leader recalled that after the new nation of Liberia was birthed in 1847, France was one of the first major countries, in 1852, to recognize Liberia’s independence.

“We are therefore very proud of the cordial ties of friendship which have existed between Liberia and France for almost 170 years now,” said President Weah, when he made remarks last Friday, at programs marking the laying of the foundation stone of the Alliance Française Institute in Monrovia by him and France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drihan.

Recounting France’s recent development engagement with Liberia, President Weah recalled that in 2012, under the auspices of the Paris Club, France signed a debt relief agreement in favor of Liberia.

The next year, President Weah added, for the first time, a Liberian contingent marched alongside French forces on the Champs-Ēlysées in celebration of Bastille Day in 2013,

President Weah further recalled: “Today, even as we speak, a contingent of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia is engaged alongside French troops in an endeavor to restore peace in Mali.”

President Weah: “In 2015, Liberia participated in the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference in Paris. And in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak which recently occurred in Liberia, France was the co-sponsor of the UN Resolution which established the United Nations Mission Ebola Response.”

He also recounted the recent successful initiation of collaboration between the French financial development institution PROPARCO (Promotion et Participation pour la Coopération Économique) and ECOBANK Liberia, which has resulted in the first French-backed bank guarantee to a Liberian bank in the tune of US$10 million.

“This is a significant development which is very welcoming, because it has the potential to give a major boost to the Liberian private sector in its efforts to secure funding from financial institutions,” President Weah said.

The Liberian president acknowledged that France mobilized and joined other partners of the international community in order to actively tackle the Ebola virus in Liberia, stating that even now, France continues to support projects which contribute to the recovery of the Liberian health system.

He extoled the Republic of France for always demonstrating its friendship and support for Liberia, adding that the French government also assisted the Liberian National Police in the form of equipment and training, and plays an important role in peace and security in the sub-region, especially in combating the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

“I was inaugurated as President of Liberia in January, 2018. The following month, I made a significant and historic first international visit outside of Africa to Paris, France,” Dr. Weah further recalled, adding, “Today, we are witnesses to the presence of the French Europe and Foreign Minister on our soil as a sign of reciprocity from that visit.”

He commended efforts of the French Embassy accredited to Monrovia, together with French companies and non-governmental organizations that he said are eager to develop and sustain a new relationship with Liberia.

“In this regard, my Government is pleased to note that French investment interest in Liberia has grown rapidly and in an encouraging manner,” said President Weah, adding that these investments are making significant contributions to Liberia’s economic recovery, especially as they create jobs and present new opportunities for employment.

“I am informed that the French Business Club is already active in Monrovia, and provides helpful advice to new French investors in Liberia. French NGO’s, such as MSF-France, Action Contre la Faim, and Medicin Du Monde, for example, are already playing a useful role. Their work in Liberia speaks to the cordiality of friendship that Liberia and France continue to enjoy,” he emphasized.

He assured Minister Le Driahan that Liberia remains committed to “our shared values; including the advancement of democracy, global peace and security, international prosperity, and the promotion of gender equality, among others.”

Like France, the Liberian leader said, “We will remain steadfast in championing the cause of humanity, and advocating for social justice and the exercise of inalienable rights without precondition.”

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