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Liberian President Visits US

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has arrived in Washington Tuesday for her first official visit to the United States since being inaugurated early this year.

A small group of Liberians welcome President Sirleaf to Washington with a prayer service held in the lobby of her hotel. Reverend Emmanuel Johnson of the Episcopal Church was one of the officiating ministers.

"We prayed for the safe arrival here to the United States of America, and we prayed that her mission be fruitful," said Reverend Johnson.

President Sirleaf is in Washington to seek U.S. assistance as she undertakes the huge task of rebuilding her war-ravaged country. Samuel Abu is minister counselor for Public Affairs at the Liberian embassy here in Washington.

"This morning she is expected to go to the State Department where she will meet with the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer. And from there she begins to meet some members of the House of Representatives," said Abu. "In the afternoon, that's about two o'clock, she's expected to go over to the Capitol where she will be addressing the joint session of both the House of Representatives and the Senate."

The Liberian president will be the fourth African head of state to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

On Thursday, President Sirleaf goes to the United Nations for a meeting with Secretary General Kofi Annan. She will also address the U.N. Security Council. While in New York, the Liberian president is scheduled to ring the bells to signal the close of the New York Stock Exchange in what the Embassy of Liberia calls a bid to attract investors to Liberia.