Liberia: Taylor, US envoy meet behind closed door - Reports

Monrovia, Liberia (PANA) - Liberian President Charles Taylor and US Ambassador John Blaney have held two hours of a closed-door meeting at the State House in Monrovia, media reports said Thursday.
The meeting comes in the wake of a recent diplomatic rift between Monrovia and Washington that has resulted in an exchange of claims and counter-claims against each other.

Of late the Taylor government has accused the US of being "over intrusive" into Liberia's domestic politics and of failing to help stop the rebel war in the north of the country.

After an anti-US demonstration by citizens of the western region to protest US policies towards Liberia, Taylor said he would himself lead another demonstration in two weeks to show resentment for the war, UN sanctions and US policies against Liberia.

Taylor's Press Secretary Varney Passewe told journalists the two men discussed issues bordering on human rights, sub-regional peace and security, the 2003 presidential election and ways of improving relations between the two states.

He said Taylor assured the government's preparedness to hold free and fair elections, and invited the US-based Carter Centre, the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West african States (ECOWAS) to monitor and participate in the electioneering process.

The US envoy had told a press conference in Monrovia the "necessary conditions" were not obtaining for the conduct of free and fair elections, and that Washington would not recognise the outcome of any "fraudulent" elections.

Passewe said that Taylor was also concerned about the statement of a senior US State Department official calling for his (Taylor's) "removal" and referring to the Liberian government as run by "gangsters."

Blaney responded by saying the statement of the US State Department official did not represent the views of the US government, the press secretary told the journalists.

Since Taylor came to power in 1997, relations between Liberia and the US, the West African state's oldest ally, have continued to take a nose dive due to the apparent hostile posture of the Taylor administration towards the US.

At least two US diplomats have been shot by Liberian security officers in yet unclear circumstances for which investigations were ordered but results are yet to be made public.


Pan African News Agency
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