India Pledges More Support to Liberia
-Holds Discussions on Bilateral Relations
The Government of the Republic of India, through its Minister of State for External Affairs, H. E. Shri (Mr.) M. J. Akbar, has pledged to construct for the Liberia government a Convention Center, which will be named in honor of their former leader, Mr. Mahatma Gandhi. The head of the Indian delegation, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs made the disclosure of scholarship on Friday, March 2nd, when he, along with his delegation met with Liberian Government officials for a Bilateral Dialogue Discussion in the conference room of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Gbehzohngar Milton Findley.
He said he was heading a six-man Indian government delegation which included H.E Mr. R. Ravindra, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Liberia, Mr. Soumendu Bagchi, Director General, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr. A. Amarnath, Deputy Secretary, Government of India, Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, Honorary Consul General of India to Liberia and Abhishek Kumar, Embassy of India to Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, Mr. Akbar urged the Liberian government to make use of 100 scholarships, which it provided through its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program. Officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) are among those expected to form part of the beneficiaries of 100 scholarships.
“I have come to ensure that we take our relationship in bilateral cooperation to another level. Even though we will look back when the need arises to cooperation issues in the past, but our major concentration should be discussion about the future and not the past. I can see that this Government is about doing something new and India will be glad to be a part, but to do this, we will want to hear the specific areas of interest from Liberia,” Mr. Akbar said.
He committed his government toward the construction of the Convention Center. The construction might take 18 to 21 months following the groundbreaking, noting that the groundbreaking will be done after the Ministry of Public Works shall have submitted a concept paper of the project to the Indian Government in June of this year.
He added: “For the convention center, we will like you to know that you have to act fast.”
To speed up the work of the construction, a four-man committee, chaired by the Ministry of Public Works, has been setup to work along with the Indian Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Mr. Akbar further assured that he will fulfill his previous promise to provide a C.T. Scan to the health sector. As he pledged that they will set up for Liberia an Information Technology Center, he also stated their commitment to setting up a micro-finance institution for support to the private sector.
Mr. Akbar, who was the guest of the Liberian government, disclosed that they are going to help boost the Liberian government’s effort in the energy sector through the Complementary Solar Energy.
He added: “We look forward to receiving you at this year’s Solar Alliances Energy Meeting which will be held in India. We are hoping that you will send to us this specific project formally before we meet again.”
As he thanked his Liberian hosts for the warm reception accorded him and his delegation, Mr. Akbar used the occasion to extend an invitation to the Foreign Minister to officially visit New Delhi, India, so that they can hold more discussions on the Liberia-India bilateral relationships.
Speaking earlier, Foreign Minister Findley, after welcoming Mr. M.J. Akbar and his delegation to Liberia, stressed the need for the Liberian government to jump-start its pro-poor agenda policy.
The Foreign Minister told his guests that the visit manifests the strong commitment of India to the cordial bond of friendship and cooperation subsisting between both nations. He further informed the delegation of the new Liberian administration being very pleased by their overture and added that he looks forward to further deepening the already excellent ties between both nations.
The Liberian government sector agencies, which took part in the one-day bilateral dialogue included Ministries of Health, Finance and Development Planning, Education, Public Works, Internal Affairs, Agriculture, Defense, Maritime and the General Services Agency.
Liberia-India relations span over six decades of strong bond of friendship and economic cooperation.
The two countries have always enjoyed close bonds of friendship and cooperation, and have non-resident diplomatic missions accredited at the ambassadorial level. (Signed: Sylvester Pewee, Assistant Minister/Public Affairs).