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Sirleaf Secures Additional Chinese support

On a one-day stop-over in the Chinese capital, Beijing, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,, en route to Japan, has secured additional Chinese support to combat the global increases in food prices. During discussions Sunday with Chinese vice Foreign Minister, Zhang Yesui, he disclosed that his Government will provide fertilizers, pesticides and seeds by July this year to help Liberia in the country's agriculture program. In addition, Mr. Zhang said, Chinese agricultural experts will be sent to Liberia during the dry season to help teach Liberia farmers in modern farming methods.

As part of short-term measures to advert the possible effects of a cutback in rice exports, the Chinese Foreign Ministry official said his Government has instructed the China Oil and Food Corporation (COFCO) to work with Liberia in helping the country secure more stockpile of rice for the country, according to an Executive Mansion dispatch from Beijing.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in a meeting earlier with officials of the China Oil and Food Corporation (COFCO), urged the group to exercise flexibility in quantity and price as it continues discussions with Liberian Rice dealers on the exportation of rice to Liberia. Despite the global demand for rice which has been increased by the recent earthquake in the Chinese province of Sichuan, COFCO Director and President that his Corporation will speed up discussions with Liberia. He said despite the demands on his Corporation, COFCO will ensure that Liberia receives consignments which would help take care of the short term needs of the country.

Meanwhile, the President has thanked China for its continued support to the country's development programs. The President again expressed condolences to the Chinese government and people for the devastation in Sichuan provide, and said Liberia stands in solidarity with China during these difficult and challenging times in the history of the country. She thanked China for the promised assistance of seeds and pesticides for the country as well as the technical support China has agreed to provide for Liberian farmers. The President said Liberia looks forward to attracting more Chinese involvement in the private sector of the country. Such involvement, she maintained, will help strengthen the already cordial relations between the two countries.

The Liberian leader also held discussions with the President of the China Africa Development Fund, Mr. Chi Jianxin. Their discussions centered on the establishment of a special economic zone in Liberia and the need to attract more Chinese investment to the country.

The President has rounded-up her one-day stop over in Beijing with a visit Sunday evening to the residence of the Liberian ambassador accredited near Beijing, Mrs. Neh Dukuly Tolbert, where she met with Embassy staff and other well wishers.

President Johnson Sirleaf arrived in Beijing early Sunday morning from Brussels en route to Japan. She leaves Beijing Monday morning to participate in the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development which begins Monday, May 26 through the 30th of May.

Source: The Analyst Newspaper (May 26, 2008)


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