General News Mon, 3 May 2004

President Kufuor returns home

Accra, May 3 GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor returned home on Sunday after visiting Britain, where he conferred with Prime Minister Tony Blair and proceeded to South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki for a second term of Office.

After Premier Blair had held a closed-door meeting with President Kufuor in the White Room at Number 10 Downing Street in London, he announced that Britain would give Ghana 138 million pounds sterling to support her economic efforts for the next two years.

Premier Blair pledged Britain's continued support for Ghana's commitment to economic growth and poverty reduction adding that Britain was also committed to assisting Ghana to ensure that all Ghanaian children were enrolled in primary school by 2010.

He announced a 16 million-pound sterling support for primary education in Ghana and another 362,000 pounds sterling for Ghana's troops deployed in Cote D'Ivoire.

He acknowledged the improved relations between Ghana and Britain and expressed optimism about how President Kufuor as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Chairman had steered the Sub-Region's affairs especially the modest gains realised in trouble spots like Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone.

Premier Blair paid glowing tribute to President Kufuor for his leadership style and the sterling performance of his Government, adding: "President Kufuor is a role model on the African Continent and a blazing trail, who should be followed and emulated".

President Kufuor commended Britain for the establishment of the Commission for Africa and expressed confidence that the Commission would help the G8 and the European Union (EU) to formulate appropriate discourse between the African Commission and the EU.

He reiterated his call for the restoration of the stalled World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, which was crucial for the growth of trade in Africa.

"Africa should be seen as a Continent in transition and as such should be encouraged to trade itself out of poverty", President Kufuor said. President Kufuor also had a breakfast meeting with the Commonwealth Business Council organised under the auspices of Sir Peter Middleton, Chairman of the Barclays Bank, as well a meeting with Ms Baroness Amos, Leader of the House of Lords.

President's entourage included, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Mr Allan Kyeremanteng, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative (PSI).

Others were Mrs Elizabeth Villars, President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI); Mr

Ishmael Yamson, Chairman of Unilever Ghana; Mr Charles Mensah, Chief Executive of VALCO and Mr Kwesi Abeasi, Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).

In Pretoria, South Africa, President Kufuor said the developments in that country were indications of Africa's commitment to democracy and the readiness of Africans to take their destiny into their own hands. President Kufuor, who was speaking at the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki for a second and final term, described the April 14 elections in South Africa as a healthy sign of victory for democracy and those, who believed in liberal values.

President Kufuor was among 48 Presidents and Heads of Government that graced the inaugural ceremony.

President Mbeki polled 69.68 per cent of the votes cast to secure the largest victory since the end of Apartheid.

Former President Nelson Mandela won the first multi-racial election 10 years ago and was sworn in as the First Black President at the death of Apartheid in South Africa.

Source: GNA