Nigeria minister 'optimistic' Boko Haram will free girls

By Drum Digital
21 October 2014

Nigeria's foreign minister says Abuja hopes to end the conflict with Islamist militant group Boko Haram soon and win the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.

Nigeria's foreign minister said Tuesday that Abuja hopes to end the conflict with Islamist militant group Boko Haram soon and win the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.

"I can say with some optimism, cautious optimism, that were are moving towards a situation where we'd be able to, in the very near future, to be able to get back our girls," Aminu Wali said in Berlin.

"There is a tremendous amount of improvement in terms of the discussions that are going on now and also the possibility of having total cessation of hostilities and at the same time bringing back the girls and also normalcy in that part of northern Nigeria."

Wali was speaking at press conference with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier following government discussions on the conflict in Nigeria as well as areas of cooperation between the two countries.

In a surprise announcement on Friday, Nigeria said it had brokered a ceasefire deal with Boko Haram that would end their five-year uprising and bring home the 219 girls seized from the northeastern town of Chibok in April.

However there have been signs that the deal will prove hollow as violence raged through the weekend and the credentials of the so-called Boko Haram negotiator have been widely questioned.

Wali's position was not as categorical as the presidency, which said Friday that a deal had been reached both to end hostilities and release the girls.

But it is in keeping with national security spokesman Mike Omeri, who told AFP that no agreement had been reached to release the teenagers but that the government was "inching closer and closer".

Steinmeier said he hoped that the ceasefire would lead to the release of the girls.

He said he and French counterpart Laurent Fabius will at the weekend visit Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and biggest economy, where Germany is planning to build four solar power plants in the north.

Steinmeier also said the fact that Nigeria was this week declared free of Ebola, the deadly disease raging in parts of west Africa, had been "one of the few rays of light in the fight against Ebola".

-SAPA

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