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Secretary Clinton to Meet with Liberian President Sirleaf


U.S secretary of state Hillary Clinton is scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the capital, Monrovia Thursday. Clinton's Liberia visit forms part of a seven-nation Africa trip intended to designate Africa as a key part of President Barack Obama's agenda.

Ahead of her arrival, Liberians have been calling on their government to use Secretary Clinton's visit to seek a sharp increase in American investment.

They contend that an investment boost in areas such as banking and factories will help guarantee peace and stability.

Liberia has been recovering from more than a decade of civil war, which crippled the country's infrastructure.

Information minister Lawrence Bropleh told VOA that Liberians are expecting partnership with Washington, but not patronage.

"I can tell you that the whole nation, even those who are outside of Monrovia are quite excited that today we will be receiving the chief diplomat of the United States. They are excited because Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has…articulated to her colleagues, her partners around the world that the Liberian people have indeed risen out of the valley of despair to a buoyancy of new hope," Bropleh said.

He said Monrovia could play a pivotal role in Washington's new partnership with African countries.

"Liberia must play a role in stabilizing the region (for example) ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). When you stabilize the West African region, you will be stabilizing the African Union because there is connectivity," he said.

Bropleh said the personal friendship between Secretary Clinton and the President could bolster today's bilateral talks.

"Absolutely, you will see that happening. President Sirleaf has great respect and admiration for President Obama and also her friend Hillary Rodham Clinton. But I think you would also see that there would be frankness in the bilateral conversation and in the private conversation," Bropleh said.

He said President Sirleaf will ask for more cooperation and partnership with Washington.

"Our president will talk about the challenges that we have faced and the way forward. And to challenge the U.S government to make sure that when there is commitment that that commitment moves quickly to pass so that new roads can be built, schools can be equipped, and our health system can get stronger," he said.

Bropleh said there is need for a paradigm shift in the relations between Washington and Monrovia.

"We agree that just handing down aid is not the way to go there must be what I call contextual relevance. The relevance of your aid must be dictated by those who are on the ground, meaning the people for whose benefit the aid must come. We don't just want you to hand out aid. We want you to fund, to teach us programs and policy made up by the people who understand the contextual relevance," Bropleh said.

Hillary Clinton's seven-nation Africa tour has already taken her to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

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