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United States Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, have lauded Tuesday's signing of an agreement to deepen bilateral relations between both countries.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that a ceremony inaugurating the Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission took place at the Department of State in Washington D.C.

Speaking at the launch, Clinton, who signed on behalf of the US government, said the commission would support the aspirations of the Nigerian people for a peaceful and stable democratic future.

She described the BNC as 'a new vehicle for cooperation'', which grew out of discussions that began during her visit to Nigeria last August.

She said the agreement which was signed at a very challenging moment in Nigeria political history, 'reflects the commitment of the US to this absolutely critical bilateral relationship.

Clinton said, 'Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, its largest contributor of peacekeepers, a significant trading partner for the United States, its largest producer of oil, and the largest recipient of direct investment by the American private sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

'So we have much to learn from each other and we have much to gain from working together.

Clinton said the framework of the agreement was designed to expand mutual cooperation across a broad range of shared interests.

Other areas of cooperation include, good governance, transparency and integrity; energy and investment, food security and agriculture.

On his part, Yayale said the signing of the BNC would ensure that Nigeria moved forward in a more responsible way and enhance its chance of being a great nation.

He noted that the agreement had also buoyed the confidence that 'Nigeria was capable of survival as nation.''

'The fact that we have gone through the last few months as a very strong nation indicates that we are a very strong democracy.

'For it is my belief that no country in Africa would have gone through this and would come out stronger than we did.

'We are committed to contributing our quota, but in doing that, we must understand each other. The basis of progress in any part of the world hinges on respect and accommodation.