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Liberia - Foreign Relations

Liberia has maintained traditionally cordial relations with the West. China and Libya have been prominent international partners in Liberia's reconstruction. Liberia also maintains diplomatic relations with Cuba. Liberia is a founding member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies and is a member of the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (ADB), the Mano River Union (MRU), and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Liberia, together with its neighbours Guinea and Sierra Leone, belong to the Mano River Union (MRU), established in 1973. Difficult political relations between the 3 countries meant that it never got off the ground. It was re-launched in May 2004 with a focus on mutual security. An International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) was launched in September 2002. It's chaired jointly by the Nigerians and European Commission, while ECOWAS acts as the Secretariat. The UN, African Union, United States, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Ghana and the World Bank are all members. At the international level, its mandate was expanded in September 2004 to include Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone and its name changed to the International Contact Group for the Mano River Basin (ICG-MRB), although the ICL still meets at the local level in Monrovia.

During the administration of Charles Taylor, relations between Liberia and its West African neighbors became seriously strained. West African countries backed by the African Union and the United Nations negotiated a peace agreement in Accra, Ghana that subsequently led to the exile of Charles Taylor to Nigeria in August 2003. With the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia has seen significant improvements in relations with its West African neighbors and the wider world. Relations between Liberia and its immediate neighbors in the Mano River region are back on track, and efforts are underway to strengthen relations with other countries. Liberia signed a non-aggression pact with Sierra Leone when newly elected President Ernest Bai Koroma visited in September 2007. Liberia is a major proponent of regional integration.

Liberia has taken steps to forge closer ties with Western countries, especially the United States. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has visited several Western countries, including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Spain, France, and Germany. President Johnson Sirleaf has also visited China and Libya.

The political impasse in Cote d’Ivoire over the November 28, 2010 presidential elections prompted more than 140,000 people to cross into Liberia as refugees. They inhabit the border region and belong to rival ethnic groups generally perceived as having supported either the legitimately elected president, Alassane Ouattara, or former president Laurent Gbagbo. Although the Ivoirian political stalemate has since been resolved, the humanitarian crisis affecting both the refugees and the receiving communities has lingered. Liberia’s coordination of, and support for, international relief efforts has been welcome.

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Page last modified: 07-10-2013 19:05:55 ZULU