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Laura Bush to Attend Liberian Inauguration


U.S. First Lady Laura Bush will attend the inauguration of Liberian president-elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf later this month. She will be joined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says the First Lady will travel to Monrovia for the January 16 inauguration of Africa's first female president.

He says Laura Bush will be joined in by Secretary Rice, showing what Mr. McClellan calls the president's continued support for countries that make the difficult transition from war to peace and from tyranny to liberty.

He says the United States looks forward to working with Liberia's new president and the Liberian people to rebuild institutions, establish stability and prosperity, and create an environment for reconciliation.

Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf is a former Liberian finance minister who also served as an official at Citibank and the United Nations. Following her election, she visited Washington last month to meet with U.S. officials including Secretary Rice.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said their meeting was terrific.

"Secretary Rice came away [with the view] that the president-elect will be a strong leader for the people of Liberia, to lead them out of this period that has been marked by violence and chaos," he said. "The Liberian people held a good election in which they can have confidence that the election reflected the will of the people, and Secretary Rice looks forward to accompanying Mrs. Bush to this inauguration, to mark this important moment in the history of Africa."

Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf won a run-off election in November against international football star George Weah. She has said she will end corruption in Liberia, which is still suffering the affects of a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003.

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