Talking better to rescue schoolgirls: Nigerian leader

Muhammadu Buhari tells US top diplomat negotiating with militants better than military action to get back abducted girls

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Nigeria’s president on Monday said he would prefer to negotiate the freedom of hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants, saying military options might risk the lives of the captives.

In a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Muhammadu Buhari said his administration is “working in concert with international organizations and negotiators, to ensure that the girls are released unharmed by their captors,” according to a statement released by his office after a closed-door meeting.

“We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

Over 100 schoolgirls are missing after Boko Haram militants stormed a school in the northeastern town of Dapchi in February. In 2014, 276 were similarly abducted.

Tillerson touched down in the Nigerian capital Abuja Monday afternoon as part of his African tour. He was due back in Washington Tuesday after cutting short the trip “due to demands in the secretary’s schedule,” said the U.S. State Department.

The statement said the meeting between Buhari and Tillerson centered around security, the Nigerian government’s anti-corruption drive, economic cooperation, and democratic development.

He also thanked America for its assistance in the fight against insurgency, and calling for further help for the local army “in the areas of training and equipment”.

Buhari promised that his administration would continue to maintain security in the country, and told Tillerson that he was ready to hold polls next year.

The statement said Tillerson, for his part, commended Buhari on his determined anti-bribery and corruption campaign, with the Nigerian leader saying that money recovered was being invested in developing infrastructure.

“You have our support in your challenges. We will also support opportunities to expand the economy, commercial investments, and peaceful polls in 2019,” the statement quoted Tillerson as saying.

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