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Sirleaf Wins Bush Pledge to Aid Liberia's Reconstruction


Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the Bush administration has promised to support her country's emergency infrastructure needs.

In a VOA interview, Mrs. Sirleaf says her meeting at the White House with President Bush on Tuesday went "exceptionally well." The two leaders discussed ways the United States can help Liberia's transition to democracy after 14 years of civil war.

Mrs. Sirleaf says U.S. assistance will help Liberia restructure its security forces and develop programs to help thousands of youths affected by war. She adds that her country is counting on the presence of U.N. peacekeeping forces for three to four more years.

The Liberian president says she hopes the United Nations will remove economic sanctions on Liberia's forestry sector in June. Authorities in Monrovia are still working, she says, to meet conditions for lifting U.N. sanctions on the diamond industry.

Mrs. Sirleaf says she is hopeful that Nigeria will heed a request to extradite former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is wanted on U.N. war-crimes charges. Taylor currently lives in exile in Nigeria, but Mrs. Sirleaf says Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has been discussing the case with other African leaders who helped negotiate Taylor's departure from Liberia in 2003.

President Sirleaf is near the end of a weeklong U.S. visit in which she made warmly received speeches to Congress and the U.N. Security Council. She also received a $25-million pledge from the World Bank for Liberia's reconstruction.