President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrived today on a three-day official visit. She will participate in various ceremonies, and will be the guest of honor at the International Conference on Women’s Leadership for Sustainable Development

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, arrived today (Sunday, 18 November 2007) on an official three-day visit to Israel as guest of President Shimon Peres.

Directly after the reception at the President’s Residence, President Johnson-Sirleaf will join President Peres at the David Ben-Gurion commemoration ceremonies marking Ben-Gurion Day at Sde-Boker. She will participate in the ceremonies together with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik and other dignitaries.

President Johnson-Sirleaf will be the guest of honor at the International Conference on Women’s Leadership for Sustainable Development, organized by MASHAV – the MFA’s Center for International Cooperation. President Johnson-Sirleaf will open the conference together with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, and will make the opening address at the official opening ceremony to be held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Liberian president will visit the "Yad Vashem" Holocaust Memorial and visit the grave of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, laying a wreath at both. President Johnson-Sirleaf will also visit holy sites in Jerusalem.

The Liberian president will attend a dinner in her honor hosted by President Peres at his official residence. She will also be welcomed to the Knesset by Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik where an official ceremony will be held in her honor, and will meet with Prime Minister Olmert. Together with her entourage of ministers, the Liberian president will hold a series of meetings on issues concerning the development of Liberia and bilateral cooperation. The president will also be the guest of honor of the Israel Diamond Institute, where she will sign a memorandum of understanding. She will also meet with heads of commercial enterprises interested in becoming involved in the development of Liberia.

Born in 1938, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf holds a PhD in economics. She has held senior positions at the United Nations, the World Bank and other international financial institutions. She is the first female head of state in Africa.

At the end of 15 bloody years of civil war in Liberia and after many years in exile, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf returned to her homeland, where she was elected in the first democratic elections, held in 2005. Her main political mission is strengthening of internal appeasement, and development and rehabilitation of the country after many years of bitter strife. President Johnson-Sirleaf is honored and revered around the western world, especially by the United States and the community of contributing states who are determined to assist her efforts to rehabilitate the country.

Founded 160 years ago by the first slaves freed in the United States and returned to Africa, they named their country Liberia – after Land of the Free. Unique to Africa, Liberia was never occupied by a colonial or other foreign power. In 1947, Liberia supported the UN Partition Plan of Palestine, and was one of the 33 nations who enabled the creation of Israel. Liberian leaders proudly note this when talking of the great friendship between Israel and Liberia.

The current visit has special importance and significance, because of the President’s unique personality, the tremendous potential for economic cooperation, encouragement of democratic processes and the expression of friendly relations between Israeli and the African continent.