Historical ties will take centre stage as the US Delegation embarks on a diplomatic visit led by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The White House announced on Friday that US President Joseph Biden has dispatched a delegation of top officials to attend Monday’s inauguration of Liberian president-elect Joseph Boakai, signalling Washington’s intent to strengthen bilateral relations with the West African nation.
The delegation, led by US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, includes senior White House and State Department officials, reflecting the importance Mr Biden places on US-Liberian ties. The delegation will include the Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Monrovia, Catherine Rodriguez; the Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House, Stephen Benjamin; the Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Isobel Coleman, and the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council at the White House, Judd Devermont. Their attendance comes after incumbent President George Weah conceded defeat to Mr Boakai in November’s runoff election.
In a statement, Mr Biden congratulated Mr Boakai and the Liberian people on a “peaceful presidential election” and transition. The White House said the delegation highlights America’s “enduring commitment” to supporting democracy and good governance in Liberia.
The visit also cements 160 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The US has focused engagement with Liberia on “consolidating democratic progress, improving capacity, transparency, and accountability of governance institutions,” according to the State Department. The two countries enjoy a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement.
As Mr Boakai takes office, the US seeks to expand economic ties and trade. Liberia’s economy has struggled in recent years amid the global pandemic, increasing the need for foreign investment. Stronger commercial links would benefit both countries.
With a high-profile US presence at his inauguration, President-elect Boakai can expect Washington to take a heightened interest in contributing to Liberia’s development. The delegation’s attendance signals that under Mr Biden, fortifying relations with Liberia remains a priority.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise in US foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe