David Belgrove, the new Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Liberia has officially taken his post when he presented his Letters of Credence to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday in Monrovia.
Ambassador Belgrove, who has the Distinction of Order of the British Empire (OBE), replaces Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, who has been transferred to another country.
President Sirleaf, said she was happy to see Ambassador Belgrove back in Liberia after serving some “fruitful” times in the past.
She recounted some of the diplomatic ties between Liberia and the UK, which stretched as far back as 1848 when Britain became the first country that recognized Liberia’s independence.
“Liberia never forgets that Great Britain in 1848 recognized our declaration of independence just one year after our independence when our key principle partner, the United States had not even done that,” she said.
She indicated that since then, the relationship has grown owing to the fact that the British Queen visited Liberia.
President Sirleaf praised the UK Diplomat for his roles played in Liberia’s immediate past when he helped in relieving the country of its debts. She made particular reference to the role the UK Government played when Liberia appealed for debt waiver.
She lauded the British Government for the supports it continues to provide to Liberia in areas such as civil service reform, truth and reconciliation commission the judiciary reform, among others.
President Sirleaf spoke of the Ebola outbreak, which she termed as a period of interruption of the country’s development agenda.
She informed the Ambassador that the Ebola three worst affected countries are working on a regional program, so that they can share or exchange experiences; carry on joint border surveillance to ensure an effective response so that there is no return of the deadly virus.
She indicated that the country is now focused on four major areas, infrastructure, health, agriculture and education, encouraging the British Diplomat to see where his government could be of greater help.
In response, Ambassador Belgrove said he came prepared to work with the Liberian government.
He expressed interest in the private sector where he anticipates working with his colleagues from the UK to encourage UK businesses to invest in Liberia.
He confirmed that his government is willing to work with its Liberian counterparts in addressing some of the country’s immediate problems and projects that will help in its recovery efforts.
He disclosed that he is meeting with some private partners in London next month to highlight the need for investment in Liberia
Mr. Belgrove joined the FCO in 1982 and has served in the Czech Republic, Kuwait, India, Canada, Afghanistan and Liberia. Most recently he served as Deputy Head of Mission and Consul General at the British Embassy in Khartoum. He was awarded an OBE in 2010 for his work in Afghanistan.
“I am delighted to have returned to Liberia, this time as the British Ambassador. The people and Government of Liberia face many challenges. I look forward to working with them and other international partners to help them and their neighbors recover from the current crises and fulfill their potential for a peaceful and prosperous future,” said Ambassador Belgrove.