ABUJA, May 14 – Nigeria said it was willing to talk to Boko Haram militants, as the United States sent its top Africa general for talks on the rescue mission of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.
The governor of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, Kashim Shettima, confirmed that all of the girls shown in the latest video released by the militant Islamist group had been identified as students in the school attacked in Chibok last month.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday requested a six-month extension to the state of emergency declared in Borno and two neighbouring states a year ago because of the “daunting” security situation.
Special duties minister Taminu Turaki restated the Nigerian government’s position that it was open to negotiations on ending Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody five-year insurgency.
Turaki, who last year headed a committee tasked with pursuing an amnesty pact with some of the group’s fighters, told AFP: “Nigeria has always been willing to dialogue with the insurgents.
“We are willing to carry that dialogue on any issue, including the girls kidnapped in Chibok, because certainly we are not going to say that (the abduction) is not an issue.” READ: Nigeria should pursue prisoner-for-hostage swap: analysts.
Nigeria’s interior minister had previously dismissed a suggestion from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in a video released on Monday that the girls could be swapped for imprisoned militants.
But the military later said it would “explore all options” to end the crisis.