Liberia's Justice Minister, Lavela Koboi Johnson, told a news conference in the capital, Monrovia, that his government had received credible and reliable reports that Liberians were being attacked and killed in Cote d'Ivoire. He said this was "disturbing", adding that the Ivorian government was under an obligation to protect Liberians both during periods of peace and in times of conflict.
The minister, who gave no details of the number of Liberians reportedly attacked or killed, called on the Ivorian government to ensure that all violence against Liberians residing in Cote d'Ivoire was immediately halted. If the Ivorian government failed to do this, he said, the Liberian government would have no alternative but to seek redress through international legal instruments of which both Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire are signatories.
Meanwhile, President Charles Taylor of Liberia has offered Liberian territory and airspace to French and other peacekeeping forces who may want to use Liberia to implement an Ivorian peace deal signed in France last week.
Taylor told reporters in Liberia on Wednesday upon his return from France - where he attended a West African summit at which the deal was ratified - that Liberia had "made an offer to France to deploy its troops assigned in Ivory Coast on the Liberian side of the border". French soldiers, he added, were free to move in and out of Liberia and to carry out air reconnaissance using Liberian airspace.
"This offer is not only limited to the French troops. Any peace-keeping force from ECOWAS or UN that will be deployed in Cote d'Ivoire will be permitted to take advantage of this offer", the Liberian leader said. "All Liberia wants to see is the immediate return of peace to Cote d'Ivoire, which is the economic cornerstone of West Africa and we are committed to the peace process."
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