Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced the re-opening of the British Embassy in Liberia.
In a written statement to Parliament the Foreign Secretary said:
“In March 1991, at the outbreak of over a decade of civil war, Britain closed its Embassy in Liberia. In 2003, a UK-based Political Officer began work again in Monrovia, reporting to and supervised by our High Commissioner in Sierra Leone. Today, I am pleased to announce the re-opening of our Embassy in Liberia.
This follows the successful Presidential elections at the end of last year, the inauguration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in January, and my meeting with her in June 2011.
Re-opening a British Embassy in Liberia strengthens our voice at a critical time and enables us to support the process of peace-building and national reconciliation in this important African country. Since the closure of our Embassy in 1991, our influence in Liberia has been limited. A fully accredited Ambassador will be able to work closely with President Johnson Sirleaf’s government as it works to push forward her programme of reform and national reconciliation.
The resources of a full Embassy will enable us to provide more systematic and effective support to British trade and investment. Liberia’s economy is growing at over 6% per annum. The oil, mining and agriculture sectors are all set to expand rapidly over the next few years.
This decision sends a strong signal of British diplomatic re-engagement with Liberia and the wider region. It follows the upgrading of our political office in Co?te d’Ivoire, to the status of a full Embassy.
As I said in Parliament on 11 May 2011, there will be no strategic shrinkage of Britain’s diplomatic influence overseas. I remain committed to extending the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s global reach and building up British diplomatic influence in key regions of the world. Re-opening the Embassy in Liberia is part of that commitment.
The re-opening of the Embassy will incur a marginal cost over and above the cost for a political office. This would be around £35,000 in the first year and £15,000 per annum after that. A limited consular service will be offered in Liberia. Our High Commission in Ghana will continue to provide a visa service as well as more substantive consular support when necessary. A fully accredited resident Ambassador will take up residence in Liberia in Autumn 2012.”