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India Liberia Joint Statement on the visit of Dr. Shashi Taroor, Minister of State for External Affairs to Liberia (16-19 September 09)

September 18, 2009

  • Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs of India led a twelve member high-level official and business delegation to Liberia during 16-19 September 2009. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the visit as a "landmark visit” because it is the first ministerial visit to Liberia from India in 38 years. The business delegation represented leading Indian companies in the sectors of agriculture, mining, IT education, telecommunication, transportation and small industries.
  • The visiting Indian Minister and his delegation were received in audience by H.E Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of the Republic of Liberia, during which they undertook a comprehensive review of bilateral relations and discussed measures to intensify the relations. The discussions with President Sirleaf covered a wide spectrum of issues ranging from India's support to Liberia's development, UN reforms to the situation in the sub region of West Africa. Dr Tharoor complimented the Liberian President on her leadership and vision for Liberia and expressed solidarity with the government and people of Liberia for their quest for peace, stability and development after a protracted and traumatic period of internal conflict.
  • Dr Tharoor also held extensive talks with his Liberian counterpart, H.E. Mr William V S Bull, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and with the Ministers of Justice, Agriculture, Education, Telecommunication, Commerce and Industry and the Chairman of the National Investment Commission. Mrs Olubanke King Akerele, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia made a special gesture of receiving and meeting Dr Tharoor at the airport on his arrival while she was about to embark on her tour to New York. In another special gesture, President Sirleaf hosted a breakfast meeting for Dr Tharoor and the accompanying Indian delegation to review the results of the visit. Vice President H.E Mr Dr Joseph N Boakai hosted a dinner for the visiting Indian delegation. Acting Foreign Minister Bull organized a reception in honour of his Indian counterpart which was attended by representatives of the Liberian leadership, Indian community, diplomatic and international community of Liberia were invited. Both Ministers addressed the gathering and proposed toasts to the well being of the people and leadership of each other's country.
  • In the discussions with the Liberian leadership, India conveyed its commitment to become an active partner in Liberia's development and underlined that India's approach would be to respond to the needs of Liberia and participate in efforts and projects which are deemed to be priorities by the Liberian side. The Liberian leadership communicated to the Indian side the concept of the four pillars of development enunciated by President Sirleaf for Liberia's development and sought India's assistance in going forward on all four pillars. The four pillars are i) Peace and Security, ii) Rule of law and justice, iii) Economic development particularly agriculture, mining and forestry and iv) Infrastructure including roads and ICT. India agreed to participate in all the four pillars of Liberia's development.
  • In the context of the above, India has offered extensive assistance in the form of lines of credit on concessional terms. In addition, India offered development assistance to Liberia to the tune of US$ 2 mn as grant-in-aid for projects in the education and health sectors. At the request of the Liberian side, India also offered to donate twenty five buses to augment the public transportation facilities of the Monrovia Transit Authority. India also agreed to set up in Liberia an Information Technology and Communication (ICT) Centre of Excellence as per a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by both parties. To provide immediate impetus to IT education in Liberia, India will set up in the short term two "Hole-in-the-Wall” computer education centres at sites to be identified by the Liberian side.
  • India also committed to assist Liberia in capacity building and training, particularly Liberian diplomats and policemen. The Indian side agreed to consider the specific and special request to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs for capacity building by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia. Both sides decided to strengthen utilization of the ongoing programmes of capacity building such as the ITEC programme of the Government of India. Liberia also agreed to send women to participate in the training programmes on solar energy development organized by India at the Barefoot College, Tilonia in Rajasthan.
  • India appreciated the accession of Liberia to the India-Pan African e-network. Both sides agreed to work closely to bring the benefits of tele-education and tele-medicine to Liberian educational and medical institutions.
  • Liberia acknowledged India's offer to share its experience of nation building and economic development and expressed appreciation of the offer of lines of credit and development assistance.
  • In order to institutionalize and further strengthen the framework of bilateral cooperation, the two sides signed the Protocol on Foreign Office Consultations during the visit.
  • Both countries recognized the need for comprehensive reform of the United Nations and the expansion of the UN Security Council to make it more representative of existing world realities. Liberia recognized the pioneering and substantive contribution of India towards UN activities particularly peace keeping. Liberia also appreciated the role of the Indian contingent of UNMIL, particularly the first ever Indian Female Formed Police Unit (FFPU). Liberia agreed to extend its support for India's candidature of the non permanent seat from the Asian Group for the period 2011-2012 for which elections are to be held in October 2010. India appreciated the Liberian gesture of supporting its candidature for the UN seat.
  • The Liberian leadership reaffirmed its strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Mumbai last year and reiterated the need for intensifying global cooperation in combating international terrorism. Liberia agreed to support India's efforts towards the early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism within the UN framework.
  • 12. H.E Dr Richard V Tolbert, Chairman of the National Investment Corporation and Dr Tharoor held discussions on Indian involvement in the economic development of Liberia and also addressed the businesspersons of both countries. The Indian business delegation also held intensive discussions with their Liberian counterparts. Concrete opportunities in mining, small enterprises development, IT education, agriculture and commercial farming were identified. The Liberian side offered substantial tracts of land for the development of commercial cropping for increasing Liberia's food security as well as for export purposes. Indian companies responded favourably to the offer. Liberia welcomed Indian investments in the small scale, mining and agricultural sector. The Indian side expressed optimism that as Liberia's credit rating improved in the coming months Liberia would be in a position to accept the concessional lines of credit being offered by India for undertaking projects in Liberia. Dr Tolbert also agreed to lead to India a delegation of Liberian ministers and businesspersons to hold road-shows on the opportunities for investment in Liberia. The Confederation of Indian Industry which organized the business delegation accompanying the Indian Minister agreed to organize the road shows in the near future.
  • During his visit to Liberia, Dr Tharoor toured the facilities of the Monrovia Transport Authority and Liberia Telecom Company. He also met with members of the Indian Female Formed Unit and with Ms Margrethe Loj, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General leading the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The visiting Indian minister also met and interacted with the members of the 1500 strong Indian community in Liberia.
  • Both sides expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the visit and agreed to have follow-up high level visits to maintain the momentum and intensify cooperation between the two countries.
  • Dr. Tharoor extended an invitation to Her Excellency Olubanke King Akerele, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia, to visit India which invitation she accepted. The date and time will be arranged through diplomatic channels.
September 18, 2009

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