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U.S. Department of State
96/01/18 USUN Press Release #007-(96)
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
 
 
 
                                       USUN PRESS RELEASE #007-(96) 
                                                   JANUARY 18, 1996 
 
 
             Statement by U.S. Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright 
                          Spriggs-Payne Airport 
                            Monrovia, Liberia 
                        Wednesday, January 17, 1996 
 
 
I am honored to have had this opportunity to observe first-hand how 
Liberia is moving from war to peace.  I came to Liberia because 
President Clinton asked me to evaluate the implementation of the Abuja 
peace accord.  As a member of the National Security Council, and the 
highest-ranking Administration official to visit Liberia, I can confirm 
to you that the President and his senior advisers are deeply committed 
to the future of this country and its people, and have demonstrated that 
commitment repeatedly throughout the last three years.  That is why I am 
here today on this Presidential mission. 
 
President Clinton asked me to convey a very clear message: this country 
must not slide into the abyss of a devastating civil war again.  The 
costs are too high, the slaughter of civilians unacceptable, and the 
stability of West Africa too important to permit a return to the power 
struggles of recent years.  My own judgment begins with President 
Clinton's determination that the United States should take a risk for 
peace when we have the means and when we can make a real difference.  
What happens here in Liberia is critical to the wider search for peace 
on this continent. 
 
I will repeat to the people of Liberia what I told the Council of State 
this morning:  the civil war that devastated this country over the last 
six years was your war.  Now the peace pledged at Abuja is your peace to 
achieve.  The United States strongly supports the Abuja peace accord, 
and we remain committed to its timely implementation.  But in the final 
analysis, either you fulfill the promise of Abuja or you will plunge 
your country once again into the abyss.  The choice is yours, the 
responsibility is yours, and the future is yours alone to determine. 
 
Throughout Liberia's tragic war, the United States has been steadfast in 
its support of the Liberian people.  We have provided $420 million in 
humanitarian assistance and $60 million in support of ECOMOG's 
peacekeeping activities.  On October 27th we pledged an additional $75 
million to support peace, including $10 million to assist ECOMOG 
logistically.  No other country has shown this kind of commitment to 
Liberia.  I have also brought in medicines, a thousand pounds or so of 
medical aid to ECOMOG provided by AMERICARES because we really believe 
they need it. 
 
I must say also how impressed I've been with the commitment and resolve 
ECOMOG is now showing.  Gen. Inienger is doing an outstanding job in 
difficult circumstances and ECOMOG has our full support as it moves to 
deploy throughout the country and begin the disarmament and 
demobilization process. 
 
The recent fighting in and around Tubmanburg threatens prospects for 
lasting peace in this country.  The United States strongly condemns the 
deaths of innocent civilians and many brave peacekeepers of ECOMOG.  I 
want to express the condolences of the American people to the families 
of the deceased and our hope for a speedy recovery to those injured in 
the fighting.  The United States joins the Council of State in calling 
for an immediate cease-fire and urges all parties involved in the 
dispute to cooperate with ECOMOG and stop the fighting. 
 
There can be no further delay in implementing the most important 
provisions of the Abuja accord:  disarmament and demobilization.  I am 
pleased to announce that the United States government has just signed 
two contracts to provide leased trucks and helicopters to ECOMOG to help 
it carry out its responsibilities under the Abuja accord, beginning with 
disarmament of Liberia's factions.  I told the Council of State and 
ECOMOG today that the word "delay" can no longer be a part of their 
vocabulary.  We have no intention of our logistical support being 
squandered by anyone's failure of political will to achieve the 
objectives of the Abuja accord. 
  
As the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, I want to 
acknowledge the courageous work of the observers of UNOMIL.  Their role 
is vital to the success of the Abuja accord. 
 
I stressed to UNOMIL officers today that in addition to monitoring the 
disengagement and disarmament of the combatants and assisting in their 
demobilization, we expect UNOMIL to follow through urgently on the other 
important tasks in the area of human rights.  That's a tough assignment 
but one which no party should hinder. 
 
I also stressed to everyone today that the era of the child soldier in 
this country must come to an end--immediately.  It is an outrage by any 
standard of civilization that children under the age of 15 and numbering 
between 4,000 and 6,000 are toting automatic weapons, slaughtering 
innocent civilians, and ignoring the rule of law entirely.  We believe 
UNICEF can play a key role in rehabilitating these abused children and I 
pressed that point today in my discussions.  The United States stands 
ready to assist UNICEF and Liberian authorities to save these children 
from themselves and from pathetically misguided leaders. 
 
I hope the day will come soon when we can announce U.S. recognition of 
Liberia's legitimate government and the Liberian people can reap the 
considerable benefits that can flow from such recognition.  But that day 
cannot arrive until the peace process is firmly on track and disarmament 
and demobilization of combatants are well under way. 
  
On Monday, the United States celebrated the birthday of the late Dr. 
Martin Luther King.  We honor him each year because he preached non-
violence and the need for all Americans, whatever their race or 
ethnicity, to live together peacefully and shape a prosperous future. 
 
The principles Dr. King lived and died for resonate in Liberia as well 
as in the United States.  The violence must end; the hatred must 
subside.  The United States will remain the ally of those who pursue 
peace and justice.  Implementing the Abuja accord is Liberia's best 
chance to achieve both.  Your leaders must have the political will, and 
you must have the political courage, to succeed in building a new, 
peaceful and prosperous Liberia. 
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