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US informs Nigeria of plan to set up military command in Africa

by Staff Writers
Abuja (AFP) Nov 13, 2007
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte Tuesday outlined his country's plan to set up AFRICOM, a military command in Africa, saying it was in line with America's defence policy.

"It's not unusual for the US to have regional military commands. We have regional military commands in various parts of the world," Negroponte told reporters at the end of his visit to Nigeria.

The US government announced early in the year that the Defence Department was creating a US Africa Command headquarters to coordinate all American military and security interests throughout the continent.

The US military involvement in Africa has been shared among the US European Command, the US Central Command and the US Pacific Command, and AFRICOM is, for the moment, based in Germany, while a continental location is evisaged in the longer term.

"We will like to eventually situate offices of AFRICOM in an African country. The process of selecting that country is ongoing and we certainly will not do it anywhere that does not welcome the presence of the US military command," the top envoy said.

Negroponte said his country would help Nigeria stamp out criminality in the oil-rich but volatile Niger Delta where more than 200 foreigners have been taken hostage since January 2006.

The US envoy also held talks with Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, top government officials, including Foreign Minister Ojo Madueke, chairman of anti-graft agency EFCC Nuhu Ribadu and representatives of the business community and civil society.

"We support Nigeria's efforts to stabilise and improve governance in the Niger Delta. I assure both the national security adviser and the defence minister that the US would do what it could to help Nigeria stamp out criminality in the Niger basin," he assured.

Negroponte said Nigeria has been an important friend and strategic partner of the United States and a leader on the African continent.

"The US is committed to sustaining a robust bilateral partnership with Nigeria which advances our mutual interests. We welcome Nigeria's leadership role in Africa," he stressed.

Negroponte also expressed the US government's support for Nigeria's ongoing reforms, increased transparency and principles of good governance.

"We applaud President Yar'Adua's commitment to strengthening the rule of law and to fighting corruption. We encourage his government to pursue vigorously electoral reform to correct the flaws revealed in last April polls," he said.

Negroponte, who is on a tour of four west African countries, has visited Ivory Coast and left Nigeria Tuesday for Burkina Faso where he will proceed to Mali.

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