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Liberian and Ivorian delegations hold "very fruitful" discussions on security, refugee, trade and regional cooperation issues

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Saturday held talks with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro of Côte d’Ivoire, as a high-powered delegation from the neighboring country visited Liberia for discussions on issues of mutual interest.

According to an Executive Mansion release, those discussions focused on matters of security, refugees and ex-combatants along the two countries’ common border; on bilateral, military and trade cooperation; and on regional cooperation within the framework of the Mano River Union, including the need to strengthen its Secretariat.

The nine-member Ivorian delegation landed at the James Spriggs Payne Airport to a traditional welcome, and was received by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. J. Levi Demmah; the Minister of National Defense, Hon. Brownie Samukai; and the Chief of Protocol, R.L., Ambassador Edward L. Dunn.

President Sirleaf welcomed Prime Minister Soro on his first visit to Liberia, and the two held a tête-à-tête ahead of bilateral discussions between the two sides.

The Ivorian delegation also included the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Kablan Duncan; and the Chief Prosecutor, Kouadio Simplice Koffi. Attending for Liberia were: Acting Foreign Minister Demmah; Defense Minister Samukai; Justice Minister Christina Tah; Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Amara Konneh; and Acting Internal Affairs Minister Soko Sackor.

Meeting with the media, following the talks, President Sirleaf said she had extended, through Prime Minister Soro to President Alassane Ouattara, Liberia’s thanks and appreciation for the cordial relations the two countries enjoyed, and for sending the delegation to discuss issues related to common security in the sub-region, refugees, and the reactivation of those bodies that would promote the bilateral and regional development of the countries concerned.

Prime Minister Soro thanked President Sirleaf for the invitation to visit Liberia. He called the discussions very fruitful, and said his delegation was returning home satisfied that the talks held would promote solidarity and security of the region, and further strengthen relations between the two countries.

The Ivorian Prime Minister responded to media questions about the extradition of Ivorian mercenaries arrested in Liberia; the prospects of International Criminal Court charges related to the massacres of civilians in Duekoue; and the fact that refugees who supported former president Laurent Gbagbo were afraid to return home.

Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr., hosted a luncheon, at the Cape Hotel, in honor of the Ivorian delegation to conclude the one-day visit.

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