Window of talks with Boko Haram open: Nigeria

The commander of U.S. forces in Africa has flown to Nigeria to discuss how Washington can help free the schoolgirls

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Nigeria’s government said on Tuesday that the “window of negotiation” is open with militant group Boko Haram who demanded yesterday the release of its members in exchange for more than 200 schoolgirls it has held since last month.

“The window of negotiation is still open. The government had set up a committee to negotiate with Boko Haram so if they have any negotiation to make it should be channeled through the committee,” Minister of Special Duties Tanimu Turaki told Reuters by telephone. Turaki heads up the negotiation committee.

The militants on Monday released a new video purporting to show some of the girls who have been identified as students of the secondary school attacked by the Islamists on April 14.

Video report: Nigerian women will protest ‘half Naked’ until schoolgirls released

“All the girls in that video were identified to be students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok,” said northeastern Borno state’s Governor Kashim Shettima. Shettima, who spoke in Abuja, had organized a viewing of the video for the Chibok community.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said on Monday that U.S. intelligence experts are “combing through every detail of the video for clues.”

British, French and Israeli specialists are also providing assistance to Nigeria, which has been accused of responding too slowly to the kidnapping and even of ignoring a forewarning that it was imminent.

The commander of U.S. forces in Africa has flown to Nigeria to discuss how Washington can help the government in Abuja trace more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militants.

A defense official told AFP on Tuesday that General David Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command, “is discussing U.S. assistance for the search as well as overall cooperation.”

The four-star general arrived on Monday for talks with his Nigerian counterparts and also was due to meet U.S. diplomats and military officers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The trip was scheduled prior to the crisis and Rodriguez also plans to discuss the U.S. military’s longer-term relations with Nigerian forces, officials said.

[With Reuters and AFP]

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