President John Agyekum Kufuor yesterday rolled out the red carpet for the newly sworn-in leader of Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma, as he arrived in the country for a two-day official visit.
The visit is his first to Ghana since his election on September 8, 2007. President Kufuor was on hand to receive him when the Nigerian Air Force plane, carrying him and his delegation touched down at the Kotoka International Airport at exactly 13:50 hours.
After the exchange of pleasantries and traditional presentation of the 'Akwaaba' bouquet, the two leaders mounted the saluting dais. The military band then struck the national anthems of Ghana and Sierra Leone and the booming of the 21-gun salute filled the air.
The visiting leader later inspected a guard of honour formed by the Ghana Navy amidst melodious rendition of some popular Ghanaian tunes by the band and a spectacular performance by a cultural troupe. The Leaders thereafter drove in a convoy to the Castle, Osu, the seat of Government, for bilateral talks.
President Kufuor in his welcoming remarks before going into talks with President Koroma, said he was impressed with the temperament he had brought to bear on his office. 'Your good conduct within the few days comes ahead of you. The statesmanship adoring you and the positive manner with which you have launched yourself must be sustained.'
President Kufuor said it was his prayer that the Sierra Leone leader would try and implement the findings of his country's Reconciliation Commission to heal the wounds and soothe the pains and injuries of its ruinous civil war, as he laid the foundation for rebuilding the nation.
He said he was confident that the West African state would find itself back with the dignity it deserved within the sub-Regional grouping, ECOWAS. He also expressed the hope that the historic relations that had existed between the two countries would be further strengthened under his leadership.
President Koroma said he was in the country to confirm the confidence and re-affirm their relations with Ghana. He said having just come out of the just recently held elections, he was aware of the responsibility to stabilise the peace back home and to strengthen relations within the ECOWAS.
Another challenge was how to rebuild the infrastructure and economy torn out by the devastating civil war. He said there was a lot they could learn from Ghana's experience. 'We are here to learn from your leadership and the direction you have shown in the sub-Region to put our development agenda on a proper perspective.'
President Koroma, who expressed his gratefulness to President Kufuor for the wonderful reception accorded him, also conveyed his country's gratitude to Ghana for the support during the difficult days of the war. He returns home today