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PRESS BRIEFING BETWEEN AMBSSADOR OLUGBENGA ASHIRU, FOREIGN MINISTER OF NIGERIA AND THE US SECRETARY OF STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR JOHN KERRY: THURSDAY, 25TH APRIL, 2013

By The Nigerian Voice

Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, Foreign Minister of Nigeria and Senator John Kerry, United States Secretary of State held a meeting today at the State Department. In the discussions, the Nigerian Foreign Minister briefed the Secretary of State on the developments in the country, in our Sub-region of ECOWAS and in Africa generally.

2. The meeting with the Secretary of State focused largely on strengthening the cooperation between the US and Nigeria in all the five sectors under the Bi-national Commission. The meeting also discussed other international issues of mutual concern to the two countries. His Excellency Senator John Kerry welcomed Nigeria's Foreign Minister warmly to Washington and highlighted the strategic partnership between the United States and Nigeria.

3. They stressed that US and Nigeria value the strategic relationship between the two countries under the framework mechanism of the Bi-national Commission chaired jointly by both of them. The two sides agreed to work together as they have done in the past to strengthen bilateral relations in the political and economic areas. Nigeria welcomed assistance from the United States in confronting the current security challenges facing the country.

4. On Mali, the Secretary of State expressed support for Nigeria's active involvement in the country. They both agreed that if the jihadists and terrorists were allowed a foothold in Mali, the consequences for the security of the West African sub-region would be disastrous. They also agreed on the need for more support for AFISMA, so that they are enabled to effectively undertake robust military action against the jihadists and terrorists, especially with the planned draw-down of French forces. They further agreed that there must be progress in the political framework in Mali, as a parallel solution to the situation in the country. The two sides are determined to give assistance that will lead to an improvement in the socio-economic conditions in the country.

5. In the review of international issues, the US and Nigeria expressed concern at nuclear proliferation in the world. In this connection, they called on North Korea to resume dialogue over its nuclear programme and for the leadership in Pyongyang to exercise utmost restraint and return to the Six-Party Talks. They also called on the authorities in North Korea to return to the Armistice programme as it represents the best mechanism to resolve the problem in the Korean Peninsula.

6. It will be recalled that the meeting was held at the instance of the US Secretary of State, underscoring the excellent relations between Nigeria and the United States.