Nigeria and its Neighbors Meet with U.S. and E.U. Member Nations, Discuss Security
Heads of state of Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Benin and Nigeria met Saturday with Western officials, including those from host country France, the U.S., and other E.U. countries. At the high-profile security conference, the nations agreed to share intelligence and strengthen military cooperation to combat Islamic insurgency and U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), Boko Haram, which abducted more than 240 girls from a secondary school in the Christian stronghold of Chibok and from Warabe village.
05/17/2014 Paris (New York Times) – The heads of state of five West African countries, including Nigeria, met Saturday with Western officials and agreed to share intelligence and strengthen military cooperation to combat the regional threat from the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram, which abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria last month.
At the request of Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, President François Hollande of France organized the meeting, which was also attended by the heads of state of Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin, countries that border Nigeria and that have long been suspicious of one another. The borders among the countries are notoriously porous, and Boko Haram’s adherents have easily slipped across them.
“We have decided to set up a general, regional action plan on the medium and longer term,” Mr. Hollande said, noting that there would be “intelligence coordination, sharing of information, centralization of means, border surveillance,” among other activities.
“We know the threat, it is serious, it is dangerous for the region, for Africa, and so for Europe,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan underscored Nigeria’s “commitment to a regional approach” to the problem. “Without West African countries coming together, we will not be able to crush these terrorists,” he said.
The goals of the meeting were relatively modest, but meant to be a first step toward persuading the countries to work together. Senior American, British and European diplomats also attended.
The five countries agreed to a plan focusing on enhanced military cooperation and intelligence sharing. This would be particularly important between Nigeria and Cameroon, two oil-rich countries whose relationship has long been undermined by a territorial dispute. Cameroon has largely overlooked the activities of Boko Haram, viewing the movement “as Nigeria’s problem,” according to Le Figaro, a right-leaning French newspaper.
The plan also aims to strengthen Nigeria’s cooperation with Niger, a poor country where the army has recently clashed with insurgents linked to Boko Haram.