February 20, 2015 / 2:50 PM / 4 years ago

Obama to host Liberian president, discuss Ebola response

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Washington next week to discuss government efforts on the Ebola virus that ravaged West Africa, the White House said on Friday.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf speaks to villagers about Ebola virus precautions outside Ganta, Liberia, October 7, 2014.REUTERS/Daniel Flynn

The meeting was scheduled for next Friday at the executive mansion, according to a White House statement.

“The president looks forward to building on a strong and historic partnership with Liberia and discussing a range of topics with President Sirleaf, including the ongoing Ebola response, the region’s economic recovery plans, and other issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.

Obama said this month he will bring back nearly all of the 1,300 U.S. troops deployed in West Africa to fight the Ebola epidemic by April 30. The White House said the number of new cases each week had dropped to about 150 in recent reports, down from more than 1,000 new cases per week in October.

The epidemic has killed at least 9,365 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In September, Johnson Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on women’s rights, wrote a letter to Obama seeking urgent aid in tackling the worst recorded outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Obama was criticized last fall for a slow start to his Ebola outbreak response.

Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Lambert

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