Finnish president to visit West Africa

Tarja HalonenHelsinki - Finnish President Tarja Halonen was next month to visit four countries in West Africa, the president's office said Friday.

The March 3-12 tour opens in Senegal and includes meetings with President Abdoulaye Wade, followed by Liberia and talks with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

In Liberia, the two female heads of state were also due to participate in a seminar on women's leadership.

Visits to Nigeria and Benin and meetings with Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua and Benin's President Yayi Bon cap the trip.

Finnish Migration and European Affairs Minister Astrid Thors was also to be part of the delegation that includes the president's husband, Dr Pentti Arajarvi.

Themes during the visit included talks on political and commercial ties and development cooperation.

Halonen, 65, was the first woman to be elected president of Finland in 2000. She was reelected for a second, final six-year term in 2006. (dpa)