FW: Pool Report

From: Bender, Bryan [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2015 12:37 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N.; Velz, Peter
Subject: Pool Report

President Obama hosted Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the Oval Office, calling her a “great friend and ally of the United States” and committing to help ensure that the international community is “not complacent” with the success achieved in controlling the historic Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

“President Sirleaf came into office under some of the most challenging circumstances, after a brutal civil war," POTUS opened his brief remarks. "She has worked steadily to solidify democracy, defeat corruption, deliver basic services to a very poor country. And she has done so with grace and steadiness."

“Last year proved to be an extraordinarily difficult challenge. Because of the Ebola crisis we saw the kinds of death and destruction of an entire country, an entire region of the sort we haven’t seen very often in modern history.

He continued: “Because of the Ebola crisis we saw the kinds of death and destruction of an entire country, an entire region of the sort we haven’t seen very often in modern history. I want to express my deepest condolences to thousands who died from this deadly disease, their families. Obviously they continue to grieve. But what is extraordinary, because of President Sirleaf’s leadership, because of the heroism of so many people in Liberia and because of the actions of the United States and also the international community we have made extraordinary strides… Cases are now down 95 percent from their peak...Normal life is beginning to return to Liberia. Children are beginning to go back to school People are beginning to go back to soccer matches. Businesses have reopened.”

POTUS, dressed in a navy blue suit, white shirt and blue and white striped (I’m sure every would agree those were indeed the colors) sat opposite the Liberian leader, who was also dressed in a blue and white striped skirt and matching sash along with a navy blue blouse and matching headdress (I’m pretty sure anyway).

A collection of US and Liberian official looked on, including Secretary of State John F. Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who conferred several times in whispers while standing behind the president’s desk on the far side of the room.

Sirleaf thanked POTUS and “the American people in general” for this critical help in fighting the outbreak.

“We know that there was fear in this country and we understood that because we were fearful ourselves,” she said. “We did not know how to confront this unknown enemy.”

She particularly thanked the US military for its medical response, which is now ending,

“We know that there was fear in this country and we understood that because we were fearful ourselves. We did not know how to confront this unknown enemy. She particularly thanks the US military response, which is now ending.

“That made a critical difference,” she said.

POTUS similarly singled out the role of the US military.

“I am very proud of the participation of the United States, our men and women in uniform who helped set up the logistical capacity to absorb additional aid and health workers from around the world,” he said. “Our ability to set up labs, provide technical assistance, that allowed Liberian health workers and other international partners…to establish safe barrier practices."

Full transcript of the roughly 12- minute public session should be forthcoming.

Both leaders closed their remarks by warning that the Ebola battle is not over.

“Our job is not yet done,” Obama said, citing neighboring countries such as Guinea and Sierra Leone that are still “somewhat behind.”

He pledged continued assistance to the region to “make sure we are not complacent so long there is even one case of Ebola remaining.”

He also spoke of the economic dislocation caused by the scourge and the longer term consequences it is predicted to have.

Liberia, a nation founded by freed American slaves, is also in the midst of a highly tenuous political situation, including warring factions sparking concerns of a another descent into civil war.

“We are not there yet,” Sirleaf echoed.

Neither leader took questions.

Bryan Bender

Boston Globe

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Bryan Bender

Boston Globe Washington Bureau

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