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Cablegate: Koroma Makes First Visit to Brazil

VZCZCXRO6432
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0326 2311653
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191653Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2832
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0008

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000326

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W (JHUNTER)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SL BR
SUBJECT: KOROMA MAKES FIRST VISIT TO BRAZIL

REF: FREETOWN 321

1. President Koroma is currently enjoying the first ever
Sierra Leonean state visit to Brazil after landing in
Brasilia on August 18. Accompanied by the Ministers of
Foreign Affairs, Information, and Agriculture, Koroma will
meet with President Lula da Silva on August 19 to sign a
Memorandum of Understanding and other agreements to cement
the diplomatic relationship between the two countries and
make way for the start of construction on a Sierra Leonean
embassy. According a press statement, Koroma will also meet
with the Presidents of the Senate, the House of
Representatives, and the Supreme Court. He will also visit
the Embrapa Agricultural Research Agency before leaving for
Rio de Janeiro on August 20.

2. Koroma met with representatives from the 28 African
diplomatic missions represented in Brasilia on August 18, and
emphasized the strong historical and cultural bonds between
Brazil and the African continent. The President told the
representatives that Africa should seek closer ties to Brazil
since "our people are the same." He then gave the diplomats a
snapshot of the current state of affairs in Sierra Leone,
highlighting the peaceful elections in 2007 and the "Agenda
for Change" development strategy that prioritizes
agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and social services. He
also spoke about regional cooperation, focusing on the
revitalization of the Mano River Union (MRU) and strengthened
collaboration within ECOWAS and the AU (Note: In discussing
the MRU, Koroma was careful to point out that they are
supporting Guinea "to see her through this difficult time -
and not shy away - but to ensure they meet their democratic
commitments." End Note). He informed the group of the African
Caucus of Finance Ministers and Bank Governors that Sierra
Leone hosted (reftel) August 11-14. Koroma was warmly
welcomed by the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, Thomas
Bvuma from Zimbabwe, who also praised President Lula by
saying "he makes our work easier by having a special interest
in African affairs. We believe this special relationship
reflects President Lula's genuine interest in Africa to
develop partnership with our countries."

3. Comment: Sierra Leone has been working for some time to
establish a diplomatic mission in Brazil, and a meeting with
Foreign Minister Bangura some months ago revealed that the
Brazilian government will be paying for its construction.
Brazil does not have a representative based in Freetown, but
we understand that this is also being considered. Areas of
partnership and collaboration, particularly within the
agricultural sector, will no doubt benefit Sierra Leone
tremendously. End Comment.
PERRY

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