George Weah, Liberia's newly elected President chose France for his first official trip outside Africa. There was a warm welcome for the former PSG soccer star and welcome pledges of support from the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. Report by Christine Holzbauer, our correspondent in Paris
It was not surprising that for his first trip outside Africa, Liberia's new President, George Weah should choose to visit Paris, late in February, where he still commands legendary status as one of Paris Saint-Germain's (PSG's) greatest football stars.
PSG are strongly tipped to win this year's UEFA Champion's League and the return of'King George' to the scene of his many triumphs is seen as a good omen.
Paris rolled out the red carpet for its adopted son and President Emmanuel Macron rolled out a slew of pledges to support the West African country's struggling economy.
"France will always be at your side," promised Macron. Earlier, anticipating Weah's visit, Macron addea Liberia to the list of priority countries receiving French development aid in Africa. France will support Liberia in negotiations with the IMF over its debts and boost bilateral trade.
The Elysee also announced the launch of a 15m [euro] initiative to finance sports training and equipment supplies in Africa. "Today we have launched a platform, 'Transformation through Sport', which will apply throughout the African continent," President Macron said. He added that FIFA, the NBA and several foundations created by sportsmen and women supported the initiative.
During a press conference on 21 February, Weah said that it was sport that had "disarmed child soldiers" during his nation's 14-year civil war and had helped bring the conflict to an end.
It was also sport that changed his own life, propelling him from a life on the mean streets of Monrovia to the pinnacle of international football stardom.
"I am out of the streets because I had the opportunity to get involved in my sport and today I am President of the Republic of Liberia, thanks to sport!" the former PSG and Monaco striker added.
The "platform for transformation through sport" will be overseen by the French Development Agency (AFD) with the help of the African Development Bank (AfDB). It will be used to finance projects for the creation of infrastructure and equipment, and support former professional sportspeople wishing to invest in economic sectors in Africa, whether or not related to sport.
During a working lunch with Weah and...