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Liberia, S/Africa sign framework for bilateral cooperation

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Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan NDThe Governments of Liberia and South Africa have signed a Framework Agreement for Bilateral Cooperation in several areas. The Framework Agreement was signed on Sunday, June 14, 2015 on the margins of the ongoing 25th Ordinary Summit of the African Union in South Africa.

Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, signed on behalf of Liberia, while the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, signed for his government.

According to a Foreign Ministry’s dispatch from Johannesburg, both countries agreed to strengthen their relationship in all areas of common interest, including political, social, cultural, scientific and technical sectors within the spirit of African solidarity.

The dispatch named critical areas of cooperation as international relations, trade and investment, mining and geology, agriculture, animal husbandry, health, tourism, energy as well as water affairs and forestry. Other areas of cooperation include transport, public works, communication, justice, defense, education, youth and sports, environment, economy and finance, internal security, and war veterans’ affairs, among others.

The dispatch further disclosed that the parties also agreed to establish a Joint Consultation Forum, consisting of officials from both parties to monitor the implementation of the framework agreement and identify areas for further cooperation. The two countries agreed to meet annually on an alternating basis in the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Liberia.

Meanwhile, the two countries have also agreed to encourage partnership between public and private institutions respectively at home that are involved in the sectors and areas of cooperation agreed.

They also agreed to promote partnerships between their private sectors in accordance with the domestic laws in their respective countries and in consideration of their commitments to sub-regional, regional and international organizations, which they are members.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan speaking after the signing ceremony described the agreement as a boost in bilateral relationship as they will now have to work through their respective diplomatic missions and concerned sector ministries to ensure implementation.

He then on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Government and People of Liberia assured President Jacob Zuma and the People of South Africa that all would be done on the side of Liberia to follow the agreement to the letter.

In a separate development, Minister Ngafuan has held talks with his Swedish counterpart Madam Margot Wallstrom on the margins of the African Union Summit.

According to a Foreign Ministry dispatch, during their discussions, Minister Ngafuan expressed appreciation to the Swedish Government and People, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Government and People of Liberia for Sweden’s support to Liberia’s successful fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). He informed his Swedish counterpart that, as Ebola was over in Liberia, the Government of Liberia was now focused on its Economic Stabilization and Improvement Plan of which a sub component is the 7-year Health Improvement Plan and requested Swedish Government’s support.

For her part, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom commended Liberia for the efforts in the fight against Ebola and commended the personal leadership role played by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the fight. Madam Wallstrom assured that Sweden will remain a strong partner to Liberia as the country’s embarks on its post-Ebola recovery.

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