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Jonathan, Clinton agree on new date for Nigerian visit

Delay caused by Jamaica 50 celebration participation

Balford Henry

Thursday, August 09, 2012    

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NIGERIA and the United States have reached a compromise which will facilitate a delayed visit to Abuja by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today for discussions with President Goodluck Jonathan.

The announcement on Tuesday ended speculation that Clinton would exclude Nigeria from her 10-day tour, after failing to get him to agree to a meeting last Thursday as was originally intended for her tour.

Jonathan travelled to the Caribbean, instead, to fulfil commitments to attend Emancipation and Independence anniversary events in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, respectively. In Jamaica, he discussed restoring the oil trading facility, which was suspended in 2007 following the Trafigura Oil Scandal involving the then People's National Party Government.

There was speculation that the Nigerian president had deliberately missed out on the talks with Clinton to avoid discussing proposals surrounding the militant Boko Haram, a foreign terrorist organisation. Boko Haram, a violent Islamist group based in North East Nigeria, has been linked to more than 1,000 deaths.

Yesterday, the Nigerian press reported that both Jonathan's special adviser, Dr Reuben Abati, and the country's ambassador to the United States, Professor Ade Adefuye, confirmed that a new date of August 9 was set for Clinton's visit. The US Secretary of State will stop in Abuja on her way to attend the funeral of former Ghanaian President John Atta Mills, who died on July 24.

Adefuye admitted in Abuja, where he has returned to make preparations for the visit, that Jonathan's insistence on fulfilling his long-given agreement to visit Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago during this period prevented the August 2 meeting in Abuja. He said that the Jamaican and Trinidadian governments wanted Jonathan to be a special guest for their 50th anniversary of Independence, and the Nigerian president felt that he had to honour the engagement in light of his commitment to Africans in the Diaspora.

However, he said that based on the good working relations, between the Nigeria Embassy in Washington and the US government, they were able to agree earlier this week on Clinton's one-day visit on Thursday.

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