Clinton Presses Nigeria’s President on Security

Posted August 9th, 2012 at 10:05 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Nigeria's president Thursday to step up efforts to combat growing extremist violence in the country's north and central regions.

Officials traveling with Clinton said she told President Goodluck Jonathan and top Nigerian security authorities that Washington stands ready to help train police and anti-terror units in the fight against Boko Haram militants. The Islamist extremist group is blamed for scores of attacks and more than 600 deaths this year alone, as it seeks to implement strict Islamic law across the country of 160 million people.

Rights groups say Boko Haram has mainly targeted authority figures, government buildings, and churches since 2010, in a country split roughly in half between the Muslim-dominated north and largely Christian south.

The Abuja government has so far been unable to stop the bloodshed.

Clinton also encouraged government efforts to improve transparency and curb official graft in a country consistently ranked as one of the world's most corrupt.

“We want to work with you and we will be by your side as you make the reforms and take the tough decisions,” she said.

The U.S. diplomat departed Abuja late Thursday, continuing her 11-day, nine-country tour with a stop in Ghana, where Friday she will attend the funeral of the late president John Atta Mills, who died suddenly July 24. Clinton is also set to hold talks in Accra with Mills' former vice president, John Mahama, who was sworn in to replace him hours after his death.

She then is set to pay a brief visit to Benin — her last stop before returning home.