The United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, has described bilateral relations with Liberia as “very important.”
As the first foreign secretary to visit Liberia in a very long time, Mr. Johnson said his visit here was a big opportunity to intensify the friendship and partnership, noting that Britain was the first country to recognize Liberia’s independence in 1848. “Those are the foundations of a relationship that we want to grow from strength to strength,” he said.
According to a Foreign Affairs Ministry release, the UK Foreign Secretary made the assertion when he stopped over at the Roberts International Airport and held bilateral discussions with a number of Liberian government officials including Foreign Affairs Minister Marjon Kamara, Public Works Minister Gyude Moore, Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy and the head of the President’s Delivery Unit, Clarence Moniba on Wednesday.
Mr. Johnson, who was making his first trip to Africa as the UK’s foreign secretary, stopped over en route to the UK following visits to Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
He said his stopover was to see the transformation taking place here, meet with government authorities to see how the UK can be supportive of the country’s continued development efforts specifically infrastructure, power generation and moving Liberia higher up the value chain. He also highlighted how his government can support the upcoming presidential and legislative elections later this year.
The UK Foreign Secretary described the discussions as “very valuable” understanding the country’s huge potential. “This is a country which has been through a terrible civil war in recent memory but is firmly out of that and is bouncing back like Liberian rubber,” he joked.
For her part, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamara said though his visit here was quite short and unexpected, Mr. Johnson’s time in Liberia was spent constructively with officials discussing with him government’s priorities and the opportunities for UK partnership and investment in priority areas including infrastructure, energy and road construction.
“We hope to see an increase in their (UK) interest,” she said, noting that Mr. Johnson confirmed that the UK Government through the Department for International Development (DFID) is already committed to contributing to Liberia’s reconstruction fund. “We look forward to quick decisions on those issues that are already before the UK Government,” Minister Kamara indicated.
She noted that the UK Foreign Secretary’s visit was significant in further strengthening bilateral relations with a positive impact considering an opportunity to personally meet each other and confer. “It should help them reach decision points on many of the issues,” Minister Kamara emphasized.
During his stopover, the UK Foreign Secretary also visited the Firestone Natural Rubber Company (Firestone Liberia) near the Roberts International Airport.