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22.10.2008 General News

Dutch Queen treats Kufuor to royal welcome


Queen Beatrix, the Dutch Monarch, on Tuesday treated President John Agyekum Kufuor to the full blast of Dutch royal pageantry with a colourful ceremonial welcome at the Noordeinde Palace to begin his three-day state visit to the Netherlands.

It was watched by hundreds of specially invited dignitaries and the general public including the Ghanaian community, who waved miniature Ghanaian and Dutch flags.

Coming barely two months to the end of his Presidency, the visit, at the invitation of the Dutch Government, has the dual agenda, to reinforce Ghana-Netherlands bilateral relations and to publicly recognize President Kufuor for his good leadership that has transformed Ghana into a model of democracy and Africa's success story.

The two countries have had contacts for more than three centuries and enjoy warm relations with the European nation's annual development support put at about 70 million Euros.

Dutch assistance to Ghana is focussed on the macro-economy, private sector development and technical assistance programmes in the areas of health, water, environment, education and good governance.

President Kufuor, accompanied by the wife Theresa, Foreign Minister Akwasi Osei-Adjei, Attorney General, Mr Joe Ghartey and senior government officials arrived at the Noordeinde Palace in Hague, escorted by a motorcade at exactly 1205 hours (local time) and the Queen was on hand to formally receive him.

After exchanging pleasantries, the two leaders took their places on a salute dais as the military band struck the national anthems of Ghana and the Netherlands.

President Kufuor, flanked by the 70-year-old Monarch and Major C.H. Heemskerk of the Marines, then proceeded to inspect a Guard of Honour mounted by contingents from the 13th Infantry Battalion of the Prince Bernhard Shock Troops Regiment, Marines, the Air Force, Royal Military and Border Police.

With this over, Queen Beatrix led the Ghanaian first family to the Balcony Room, where they were presented to the audience, drawing prolonged applause.

Earlier, on entering the Dutch air space, the aircraft carrying President Kufuor, was escorted by a F16 fighter jet to the Rotterdam International Airport, where it touched down.

As he descended the gangway, the large Ghanaian community that had defied the chilly weather and gathered at the airport went into frenzy, singing patriotic songs and chanting slogans in adoration of their leader as the traditional 21-gun salute boomed at the background. President Kufuor later in the day held bilateral talks with Dutch Prime Minister Jean Peter Balkenende, where they discussed ways to strengthen and deepen economic co-operation between their two countries.

He would also hold roundtable discussions with Dutch Business leaders, undertake a guided tour of some industrial establishments, address the Senate and perform a wreath-laying ceremony at Dam, Armsterdam.

Source: GNA