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UN Secretary General Urges Continued International Support for Liberia's Recovery

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says any decision on whether to lift the travel restriction on some officials of former Liberian President Charles Taylor would be made by the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee. The Secretary General made the comment Tuesday while addressing a joint session of the Liberian legislature during a visit to Liberia.

The Secretary General also said the planned drawdown of UN peacekeepers in Liberia will be done in a way so as not to jeopardize the gains the UN has made in Liberia.

Liberia's Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh told VOA the Secretary General came to Liberia to see for himself the achievements the Liberian government has made in post-conflict reconstruction.

“The Secretary General said that he had come to Liberia to see first-hand the remarkable achievements that Liberia has made in recovering from a devastating conflict. And he said that he had come to Liberia to reassure the Liberian people of his and the United Nations’ steadfast commitment to peace, stability, and prosperity in the nation,” he said.

The Secretary General went to Liberia even while President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was out of the country visiting the United States. But Bropleh said the visit went very well.

“The cabinet and the leadership of the legislature were all hand to meet the Secretary General. Additionally, our president spoke the Secretary and assured him that his presence here, she will be with him in spirit, and that her visit across the world was planned long in advance before the Secretary General decided that he would come to Liberia,” Bropleh said.

He said the Secretary General assured Liberians that the planned phase withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in Liberia would be done in a way that would not jeopardize the gains the UN has made in Liberia.

“The Secretary General said that the drawdown would happen in a conceptual way, that the United Nations will make sure that it would not put at risk the gains that have been made so far by the United Nations peacekeeping mission here in Liberia. The Secretary General that this drawdown would proceed in a cautious and gradual manner. He said a gradual withdrawal would allow the government sufficient time to assume full responsibility for national security,” he said.

The Secretary General also addressed the issue of UN travel restrictions on some of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Bropleh said the Secretary General a joint session of the Liberian legislature that the issue is the concern of UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee.

“What the Secretary General did say was that this is a matter for the Sanctions Committee and the Security Council. He as the Secretary General does not make that kind of decision. And so the Speaker (of the House of Representatives) asked the Secretary General to please look into this. And I believe that the Secretary General will appropriately refer this matter to the Sanctions Committee and the Security Council,” he said.

Bropleh said Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon talked about the rising worldwide food prices and challenged Liberia to show that it can not only meet its own food supply needs, but also export food to other parts of Africa.

“What he did share with us is that this is an issue for the world, and as the Secretary General of the United Nations he was concerned. But he also acknowledge the fact that even though commodity prices are high around the world, he is cognizant of the fact that Liberia does have the fertile soil and that Liberia can start the process to self-sufficiency to food production,” he said.

Bropleh said the Liberian government is considering plans to do mechanized farming in order to improve agricultural productivity.

“Our agriculture minister, Dr. Toe (Joseph) is working toward improving the capability of farmers where they receive from government strategic guidance on how every Liberian can begin to go back to the soil and improve the possibility of making sure that we as a nation can start to feed ourselves,” Bropleh said.