In the presence of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul opened the international Liberia 2008 Poverty Reduction Forum this morning and announced that that German development cooperation support for Liberia this year would amount to a total of 15 million euros. 10 million of this will be provided to the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund, which focuses on infrastructure development.
In her opening statement, the Minister said: "Liberia's people have suffered terribly. They deserve the support of the entire international community. So we are pleased to be able to host this conference." She noted that in so-called "post-conflict countries" in particular, the international community needed to be involved on a long-term basis, thus contributing to peace.
Moreover, Germany will cancel Liberian debt amounting to 268 million euros. Liberia is one of the most heavily indebted developing countries worldwide. Since March 2008, the country has been participating in the international Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative.
German Chancellor Merkel and Liberia President Johnson-Sirleaf inspect the honour guard.
German Chancellor Merkel talks to Liberia President Johnson-Sirleaf during the welcome ceremony .
Members of President Johnson-Sirleaf delegation at the welcome ceremony in Berlin .
The Liberia Poverty Reduction Forum is being held in Berlin on 26 and 27 June 2008. At the conference, Liberia will present its Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Liberian government, donors and international institutions will discuss future goals and challenges in the area of poverty reduction and harmonize their efforts.