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US Ambassador to Sierra Leone addresses the press

US Ambassador to Sierra Leone addresses the press

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press: I am pleased to welcome you here today for my first press conference since presenting my letters of credence to President Koroma yesterday.  I am happy to be here in Freetown as the representative of President Obama and the American people.  Sierra Leone continues to be a strong partner of the United States, and we have longstanding close historical ties.

I commend the Government of Sierra Leone for its contributions to a more secure and prosperous future through its participation in peacekeeping operations, especially in Africa.  The United States remains a steadfast partner of the people of Sierra Leone in the struggle to ensure the safety and security of all nations.

I will encourage the Government of Sierra Leone to continue promoting good governance, improved economic management, consolidation of democratic institutions, and expansion of democratic values.  We also hope to expand our cooperation in countering terrorism and illegal narcotics.

Through our USAID programs, the United States will continue to develop and expand its support for good governance, food aid, and public health.  We are also proud of the U.S. Department of Defense’s collaboration with the Sierra Leonean government to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensure the protection of Sierra Leone’s fisheries.  In the commercial sector, we hope to be a partner in the successful development of economic opportunities, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

In addition, the recent return of American Peace Corps volunteers to Sierra Leone after a sixteen-year absence is a sure sign of the mutual trust and respect between our countries.  These volunteers, in a sense, are also ambassadors.  There is no better symbol of grassroots cooperation than our volunteers living and working in your communities – sharing the daily lives of Sierra Leoneans.

I would also like to emphasize the vital role that you – as media professionals – can play.  An active, free, and responsible press will keep citizens informed and help them make wise choices for a productive future.  The United States remains committed to supporting the Sierra Leonean media through training, exchange programs, and other forms of assistance.

Finally, I must say that – although this is my first time in Sierra Leone – I am happy to be back in Africa, where I have previously served the U.S. government in Mauritania, Tanzania, and your West African neighbor, Ghana.

Now, in your beautiful country, I look forward to working with your government, the media, and civil society.    As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Sierra Leone’s independence,  I plan to continue building on the  strong foundation we have laid over the years, as we work together to create a more just and prosperous future.

Thank you.  I’d be happy to take some questions now.

By the Honorable Michael S Owen, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Sierra one, US Embassy, Freetown

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