Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe talked Tuesday of a 'new start in relations between Germany and Togo,' after talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel praised Gnassingbe's 'political courage,' which had led to 'positive developments' in recent years.The chancellor said the leaders had also discussed Togo's 'path to democracy,' ahead of elections due in 2010.
Merkel said the presidential election in 2010 was an 'important test' for the West African country.
'Trust needs to grow between the different political powers,' the chancellor said, adding that preparations were needed to ensure the polls were free and democratic.
Gnassingbe, who came to power after the death of his father Eyadema Gnassingbe in 2005, said the country had made an 'irreversible' choice in favour of democracy.
Merkel said Germany recognised that Togo was heading down a democratic path, and hoped that infrastructure projects funded by the German development ministry would get underway this year already.
Gnassingbe said he was grateful for Germany's solidarity, despite the difficult economic situation.
The Togolese president said the financial crisis predominantly had affected export prices, such as that of phosphate, which had fallen from 370 dollars per tonne before the crisis, to less than 100 dollars.
Gnassingbe said his government was working to encourage peace in the region, as well as enacting economic reforms in Togo to promote good governance.
'Resources are too rare to be squandered,' the president said, adding, 'they need to be used to the benefit of all Togolese people.'
Political reform was also underway, Gnassingbe said, pointing out that a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission was due to launch shortly, aimed at settling wrongs committed under decades of dictatorship.
Now that Togo was at peace, Gnassingbe said, there were no obstacles to 'warming up' relations with Germany, which had ruled over the region known as Togoland before World War I.
Gnassingbe is on a five-day visit to Germany, which includes a meeting with German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung and disucssions on economic cooperation at the German African Business Association.
Later on Tuesday, the Togolese president is to attend the annual friendly football match between the German Foreign Ministry and the African embassies in Berlin, alongside German President Horst Koehler.
© Deutsche Presse-Agentur