Nigeria's Jonathan to visit US

2011-06-04 17:25

Abuja - US President Barack Obama will welcome Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to the White House on June 8, officials said on Saturday.

Obama "looks forward to consulting with President Jonathan on the latest regional and global developments, and deepening our strong bilateral partnership", his spokesperson said in a statement.

Nigerian presidency officials confirmed the meeting.

"President Jonathan will leave Abuja for the US on Monday to attend the United Nations General Assembly high level meeting on HIV/Aids in New York," a senior presidency official told AFP.

The official said while in the US, Jonathan would visit Obama for bilateral talks.

The Nigerian leader will join other world leaders on Thursday and Friday to talk on HIV/Aids, the official said.

He said Jonathan was expected back in Nigeria on Friday.

Jonathan was sworn in last weekend for a four-your term as leader of Africa's most populous country and a major supplier of crude to the US.

Jonathan visits the US amid renewed tension in his country, after a series of blasts rocked Nigeria following his swearing-in, killing 18 people.

A southern Christian, Jonathan defeated ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north, in an April 16 poll that led to an explosion of rioting in Nigeria which killed more than 800 people.

In early May Obama commended Nigeria's elections, where he said the majority of ballots were cast free from intimidation, signalling a strong future for democracy, but he slammed the post-poll unrest as "deplorable".

Violence, he said, "has no place in a democratic society, and it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to reject it".

Jonathan's visit this week comes a day before Obama welcomes another West African leader, Gabon's Ali Bongo, to the White House to discuss strategic regional and bilateral topics.

The administration meanwhile this week announced another initiative to engage Africa with a visit by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha to South Africa and Botswana later in the month.