West African presidents vow to end tensions

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone agreed on Wednesday to enhance border security, repatriate refugees, provide aid to displaced persons and to reactivate the administration of the Mano River Union, a common entity to foster economic development, the Moroccan news agency, MAP, reported.

The decision was reached at a summit of presidents Lansana Conte of Guinea, Charles Taylor of Liberia and Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone. Till now, Conte had vowed never to sit at the same table with Taylor because of his alleged support for Guinean dissidents. While always professing his readiness to meet Conte, Taylor has nevertheless been accusing the Guinean president of supporting forces trying to topple the Liberian government.

In the statement issued in Rabat, the Moroccan capital, at the end of their reconciliation meeting, the three presidents called on the international community and the UN to help them implement the decisions taken at the summit, MAP reported. Details of the border security measures agreed on have not been made public, but Liberia had often called for international observers between its border with Sierra Leone to verify that Monrovia was not supporting the now defunct Revolution United Front (RUF) rebels in that country.

After a Joint Security Committee meets in Freetown on 4 March to begin implementation of the decision taken on Wednesday, the committee is due to submit a progress report to the foreign ministers by 28 March.

The three presidents arrived in Morocco on Tuesday at the invitation of King Mohammed VI, and were joined at the summit by their foreign ministers. A follow up summit is due in Rabat.

UN sanctions are currently in force as a result of Liberian alleged support to the RUF who waged a 10-year war against successive Sierra Leonean governments.