U.S ready to coordinate Dapchi girls’ rescue – Tillerson

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The United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said on Monday that America is ready to coordinate efforts to rescue the school girls abducted at the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, by suspected Boko Haram fighters.

He said the U.S has been supporting every effort to tackle terrorism in Nigeria.

Tillerson was answering questions from journalists after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said: “First, we respect the responsibilities of the government of Nigeria and the territorial integrity of Nigeria. But the way we support the fight against terrorism is by providing the troops with capability to handle equipment and also training of the personnel of special operations and sharing intelligence to ensure that they have all the information available to carry out the recovery effort.

“But I think it is also important to put this in a broad regional context as well, Boko Haram is a threat to other regions and this has been the subject of my meetings elsewhere and in Africa as well.

“In my discussion with President Idris Deby in Chad earlier today, we spoke about the threat of Boko Haram and how to deal with the sect’s menace.

“So the U.S is ready to engage and coordinate efforts as well. But we have been supporting, equipping, training and when we can provide information. I think that is the best way we have been helping the government of Nigeria secure the release of the girls, which we hope, will be done in a peaceful manner. We hope that something can be worked out and they can secure the release of these girls quickly.”

He said the U.S is looking forward to free and fair elections in Nigeria next year.

Meanwhile, President Buhari told the visiting United States Secretary of State why Nigeria opted for negotiation with the Boko Haram militants who abducted the Chibok girls and students of the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.

The President said Nigeria prefers to have the abducted girls back alive.

Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Nigeria was working in concert with international organizations and negotiators to ensure that the girls were released unharmed by their captors.

“We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive,” the President said.

He thanked America for assistance rendered in the fight against insurgency, noting that Nigerian forces are good “but need assistance in the areas of training and equipment.”

The President promised that his administration would continue to do its best to secure the country, adding that he would be in Yobe State, where Dapchi girls were abducted, later this week “as part of my condolence and sympathy visits to areas where we have had unfortunate events.”

He pledged free and fair polls in 2019, recalling that the then U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, had visited before the 2015 polls “and told the party in government then and those of us in opposition to behave ourselves and we did.”

Tillerson commended President Buhari on his strides in the anti-corruption war, to which the Nigerian leader responded that moneys recovered are being invested on development of infrastructure.

The U.S Secretary of State said Nigeria was a very important country to America, stressing: “You have our support in your challenges. We will also support opportunities to expand the economy, commercial investments and peaceful polls in 2019.

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