The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 21, 2006

President Welcomes President Sirleaf of Liberia to the White House
The Oval Office

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President's Remarks
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     Fact sheet In Focus: Global Diplomacy

11:58 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT BUSH: It has been such an honor to welcome you, Madam President, to the Oval Office. I find that one of the interesting parts of my job is to be able to talk to pioneers, and Madam President, you're a pioneer. You're the first woman elected President to any country on the continent of Africa. And that requires courage, and vision, and the desire to improve the lives of your people. And I congratulate you on that.

President George W. Bush welcomes Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, March 21, 2006. President Sirleaf is the first woman elected President to any country on the continent of Africa.  White House photo by Eric Draper You know, I can remember, it wasn't all that long ago that Laura -- that would be Laura Bush -- and Condi Rice came back from the inauguration of this good person. I said, okay, tell me what kind of person am I going to be dealing with? And they said: capable, smart, a person who is a doer, a person committed to a bright future for Liberia. And we welcome you.

The President and I have had a good discussion. We discussed ways that the United States government can help this country get on its feet toward a democracy. We talked about education. We talked about security. We talked about -- we also talked about the neighborhood. I asked the President her advice on a variety of issues. I told her that part of a friendship is one in which we can speak directly with each other about how best to deal with keeping the peace and making sure that health care initiatives are robust and effective. I also shared with her some of my thoughts about the world beyond the continent of Africa. So I -- we really had a good discussion.

And so, Madam President, thank you. I want to thank your delegation. Laura and I look forward to having you for lunch here in a little bit. All in all, I think it was a very good first visit.

PRESIDENT SIRLEAF: Mr. President, as I mentioned to you, on behalf of the Liberian people, I would like to thank you -- thank you, thank your administration, thank the American people, thank the U.S. Congress, for all the support that our country has received in making this important transition from war to peace.

Our people have new hope, they have new promise in the future as a result of the strong position you took that enabled us to get this opportunity for national renewal. We have taken the necessary first steps to restoring dignity to our people, starting to fix our economy, to get our international credibility and reputation back. And we're confident that Liberian people are ready to do what it takes. They're back at work; our country is open for business. We're beginning to put in all the processes that will enable us to manage our resources that God has been so good to us in giving us, for the good of our people.

We want you to know that Liberia is going to do all it can to justify the confidence that you have given to us. Liberia, we think, has the potential to become the U.S. success story in Africa. We'll be working within our own borders; we'll be working with our neighboring states to bring peace, stability and development to our sub-region; we'll be working with our African leaders to ensure that the example we set on this transition will be one that can fuse many of our -- many of our other countries and other people in Africa.

As the first democratic-elected woman, I represent the expectations and aspirations of women in Liberia, in Africa, and I dare say, the world. And I must be able to deliver for them. My performance must justify.

Again, I just want to thank you for the encouragement and the support that you have given us, to enable us to meet these enormous challenges of development.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Madam President.

END 12:02 P.M. EST

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