Travel Diary: U.S. and Nigeria, Friends and Allies

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 12, 2009
Secretary Clinton With Nigerian Foreign Minister Maduekwe

Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary | Behind the Scenes PhotosToday, Secretary Clinton met with Nigerian Foreign Minster Ojo Maduekwe in Abuja, Nigeria. Secretary Clinton said:"I appreciate also the opportunity to meet here in Nigeria and to develop even stronger ties of friendship and partnership between the people of our two nations. The United States views Nigeria as a friend, an ally, and a partner on so many important issues, as well as an important country in Africa and increasingly, globally. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, its largest producer of oil, its largest contributor of peacekeepers, a significant trading partner for the United States, and the largest recipient of American direct investment by the private sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.

So given all that, it is critical for the people of Nigeria, first and foremost, but indeed for the United States, that Nigeria succeeds in fulfilling its promise. And in our meeting, I reiterated our appreciation for the strong role that Nigeria has played on the continent. I think it’s important to emphasize that without Nigeria, Liberia might not be a free country, Sierra Leone might not have ended decades of war. The role that Nigeria is playing in the Sudan – the recent commander of the peacekeepers in Sudan was, of course, a Nigerian.

On so many important issues, Nigeria reaches out to the African continent to provide technical assistance and advice. And Nigeria has been particularly active on key international and regional issues from Zimbabwe to Niger, and spoke out strongly against the coups in Mauritania and Guinea. Nigerian peacekeepers are increasingly viewed around the world. I saw some of them yesterday in eastern Congo as among the best that can be provided. This puts a burden on the Nigerian Government, which we recognize and express our appreciation for.

Nigeria is also a very strong partner with the United States on the military-to-military front. We’re increasingly working together on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, one of the most critical and dangerous places because of the combination of rebel movements, drug traffickers, gun runners, and other criminal elements.

We also appreciate the increasing cooperation we’ve received from Nigeria on counterterrorism, on our joint efforts against the scourge of drugs. And I want to applaud Nigeria for the progress that it made in a relatively short period of time moving up to Tier 1 in our annual report on human trafficking. We know that was a concerted commitment by the Nigerian Government, and they really stepped up.

Now we know too that Nigeria faces a range of tough challenges, including the challenges of government capacity and the rule of law and corruption and keeping this large, diverse country moving forward. And therefore, we strongly support and encourage the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption, and provide support for democratic processes in preparation for the 2011 elections. I noted that the president, who has been pushing an agenda that includes electoral reform, security in the Niger Delta, has really put himself out there to try to deliver. And we support these efforts and talked specifically about how the United States might be able to encourage the electoral forums, including the creation of an independent electoral council in preparation for the next elections.

We also support the Nigerian Government’s comprehensive political framework approach toward resolving the conflict in the Niger Delta. This process, as it was explained to me by several of the ministers who were present, is incorporating the region’s stakeholders as absolutely essential, focusing on the region’s development needs, separating out the militants and the unreconcilables from those who deserve amnesty and want to be part of building a better future for that part of Nigeria. And we have offered, again, our support and that of the international community.

The minister and I agreed to establish a bi-national commission that will look at the broad range of issues not only at the federal government, but I particularly appreciated the minister’s invitation to the chair of the governors’ forum. Because coming from our country, we know how much work gets done at the state and local level. And therefore, we see an opportunity to have this bi-national commission work at the federal and national level, as well as on the local and state level.

So it’s a pleasure to be here and to pursue and further develop this strong relationship that means so much to both of our countries."

Read the Secretary's remarks with Foreign Minister Maduekwe and more from her trip to Africa.

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