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Liberia's Progress

The Republic of Liberia received a big vote of confidence recently when its leaders negotiated approximately $1.2 billion in debt relief from private lenders.

The West African nation owed billions to foreign creditors and its economy was wrecked from years of civil war, and it has come far under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Much still needs to be done, but the agreement helps bring Liberia's debt to a manageable level and hopefully to attract investment and maintain its economic turnaround. It also means that more of the nation's revenues can be used on programs for its people instead of for loan repayments.

Under the agreement, a group of commercial creditors agreed to forgive a large portion of what they were owed after the World Bank, United States, Germany, Norway and United Kingdom contributed a total of $38 million toward the effort. World Bank officials said the discount was the biggest ever on developing-nation commercial debt, the kind owed to banks and investment companies.

The U.S. contribution was $5 million. "I am proud that the United States could play a key role in this deal which will allow Liberia to focus on the urgent business of rebuilding its economy," said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in announcing the news.

At a meeting in London earlier this month, leaders of the G-20 group of major industrialized and developing nations said that prosperity and growth must be shared among all countries, and they committed themselves to helping relieve the burdensome debts of struggling nations.

The U.S. supports the efforts of the Liberian people and President Johnson Sirleaf's government to overcome years of conflict and instability, and to implement reforms that are putting their country back on the path of development and growth.