Office of the President of the Republic of Finland Press Release 20 February 2009
President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and Dr Pentti Arajärvi will travel to West Africa on 3-12 March 2009. The programme includes state visits to Senegal and Liberia followed by official visits to Nigeria and Benin.
In West Africa, President Halonen will meet with the heads of state and leading politicians in four countries. Discussions will focus on the strengthening of political and commercial ties between Finland and these countries as well as Finland's development cooperation in West Africa. Key international issues will include the economic situation, climate change and relations between the EU and Africa. President Halonen will also address the parliaments in Senegal, Liberia and Nigeria and co-chair a colloquium on women's leadership in Liberia. In addition President Halonen and Dr Arajärvi will visit projects receiving aid from Finnish and international NGOs.
President Halonen will be accompanied by a delegation including Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors.
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The visit to West Africa will begin with a state visit to Senegal, where President Halonen will meet with President Abdoulaye Wade. President Halonen will also visit a project conducted by the African Movement of Working Children and Youth (AMWCY) and Slave Museum on the island of Gorée.
During her state visit to Liberia, President Halonen will meet with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. On 7-8 March she will attend an international colloquium on women's leadership and act as co-chair together with President Johnson-Sirleaf. The colloquium, which will be held in Monrovia, will consider broadly with women's participation in decision-making. The general theme will be Women, Peace and Security according to UN Security Council Resolution 1325. In Liberia, President Halonen will also visit projects supported by FinnChurchAid and the Finnish Refugee Council.
During her official visit to Nigeria, President Halonen will meet with President Umaru Yar'Adua. This will be a return visit, since in 2004 Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Finland. President Halonen's programme will include a visit to a shelter for victims of human trafficking.
President Halonen and Dr Pentti Arajärvi's visit to West Africa will end with an official visit to Benin, where President Halonen will meet with President Yayi Bon and tour the Finnish-African Cultural Centre Villa Karo.