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15.03.2007 General News

Queen Pledges Support

By Kwaku Osei Bonsu, GNA Special Correspondent, Londo

Queen Elizabeth II has pledged the United Kingdom's closer partnership and support for Ghana's push towards accelerated economic development and prosperity.

'Ours is a forward-looking partnership and, as we mark the completion of Ghana's first half-century, we look forward to accompanying you on the journey of the next fifty years,' she said in a toast at a State Banquet she hosted on Tuesday in honour of President J. A. Kufuor, in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace, the symbol of the British Monarchy.

President Kufuor, accompanied by his wife, Theresa, and a high-powered delegation is on a three-day State Visit at the invitation of the Queen.

The delegation includes the Chairman of the Council of State, Professor Daniel Adzei-Bekoe and another Member of the Council, Madam Ama Busia, Foreign Minister, Nana Akufo-Addo, Information Minister, Kwamena Bartels and other senior government officials.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Deputy, John Prescott, were among the 170 dignitaries made up of the royal family, politicians, diplomats, captains of industry, academia, the clergy and high ranking military officers who attended the banquet.

Queen Elizabeth said the history of her country and Ghana, as well as that of their peoples have long been woven together, something that was a source of strength for both nations.

She traced the high expectations and optimism that characterised the birth of Ghana at independence and said, 'despite reverses encountered along the way, the expectations and optimism were well based, for they were founded upon the character and dynamism of the Ghanaian people. 'Ghana today is a progressive, open society. The economy is buoyant, and growth and prosperity are being fostered by a pluralistic and lively political debate and by your responsible and forward-looking policies.'

Queen Elizabeth applauded President Kufuor for his commitment to the rule of law, stance against corruption and priority attached to investment in basic social services.

These, she noted, underlined his determination to leave a legacy for Ghana as an increasingly stable, transparent and prosperous nation with a healthier, more skilled population.

She encouraged President Kufuor to use his chairmanship of the African Union to champion the stability and development of the continent. She also paid tribute to Mr. Kofi Annan, the immediate past Secretary-General of the United Nations, for his contribution to international peace.

President Kufuor, responding to the toast, invited British businesses to take advantage of the investment opportunities in Ghana to put their money in the country's economy.

'While acknowledging that the UK still ranks as the highest in terms of Foreign Direct Investment in Ghana, there is no doubt that the full terrain of opportunities for investment is yet to be fully explored.'

He said Ghana was proud and grateful for the Queen's personal interest in the affairs of the Commonwealth, her visit to most of its member countries and ensuring its survival and respect for principles of democracy, good governance, human rights, peace and security.

President Kufuor said these ideals were the driving force behind Ghana's efforts and contribution towards the promotion of peace, stability and good governance, especially in the West African sub-region.

He said he was hopeful that with the continued support and cooperation of the UK, their shared desire to bring calm to troubled spots in Africa would be achieved.

President Kufuor noted that Ghana faced many challenges as it prepared for the next 50 years and as new threats to peace and prosperity emerged.

'But in our ever-changing world, I believe one thing is certain. As Ghana moves to face these challenges, she can rely on the United Kingdom as a strong supporter, a dependable partner and a loyal friend,' he said.