Prez Sirleaf Off to South Africa

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at the head of a high-level delegation, has departed the country to participate in the Second Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The summit, according to a release from the Executive Mansion, is scheduled to take place December 4 and 5. The Forum is preceded by the Sixth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC.

This historic meeting of the world’s leading economy and Africa is expected to elevate China-Africa relations to a new level, stated the release.

The Summit, which is being held under the theme, “Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development,” marks the first time that African and Chinese leaders will meet in Africa to look at ways of deepening cooperation. This is only the second time in the 15-year history of FOCAC that the leaders are meeting together, the first being in Beijing, in 2006, the release stated.

The co-chairs of the Second FOCAC Summit, Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, will deliver key addresses, as well as the African Union chairperson, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner, having developed a mutual, sound and vibrant partnership with trade volume between them increasing exponentially over the past decade.

The Second FOCAC Summit is expected to consolidate these gains and further reconstruct global affairs by exploring new models and approaches towards a more equitable and inclusive system that promotes sustainable socio-economic development.

The Summit will also review the implementation of various agreements signed since 2006, and outline the course of action for development of China-Africa relations over the next few years. A number of bilateral agreements are expected to be signed to deepen relations at various levels.

The First FOCAC ministerial conference was held in Beijing in October 2000. This was followed by a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2003. Beijing hosted a full China-Africa Summit in 2006. A FOCAC ministerial meeting was held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in 2009, and the Fifth FOCAC ministerial meeting was hosted by China in Beijing in 2012.

The FOCAC platform is based on the principles of South-South cooperation and mutual and equal benefit, with a view to addressing various areas of concern for Africa’s socio-economic development and integration. These include deepening cooperation in the areas of infrastructure development, debt relief, industrialization, investment promotion, market access expansion, agriculture, science and technology, health, education, and people-to-people cultural exchanges, among others.

The FOCAC platform provides an opportunity to further stimulate growth and unlock new opportunities between China and Africa on trade and other matters.

Meanwhile, while President Sirleaf is away, the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, will chair the Cabinet in consultation with Vice President Joseph N. Boakai.

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