19 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Kenya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia next week for talks with senior government officials on regional issues, the State Department said on Thursday.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the visit to Kenya would focus on South Sudan’s peace process and Somalia’s political transition. In Nigeria, he would meet President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss cooperation on the fight against Boko Haram militants, the Nigerian economy and human rights issues, the spokesman said.
Boko Haram, the group responsible for the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok in 2014, has killed at least 20,000 people in its 7-year uprising against the Nigerian government. It surpassed Islamic State in 2014 to become the world’s deadliest terrorist group, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
Kerry and Buhari also will discuss Nigeria’s economy and human rights issues.
Secretary Kerry then will travel on to Saudi Arabia where he will meet with Saudi and other Gulf state leaders to discuss the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Kirby said.
In Saudi Arabia, Kerry would meet senior Saudi leaders as well as counterparts from Gulf Arab states to discuss the conflict in Yemen, Kirby said.
Secretary Kerry had met with a delegation of Nigerian officials late in March this year for a day-long round of talks to discuss, among other things, the African country’s issues with terrorist groups.
He acknowledged the challenges Nigeria has experienced with Boko Haram, and he reiterated U.S. support for Nigeria.
“It is an outrage that any group anywhere would brainwash young people, including little girls, to strap explosives to their bodies and walk into an open marketplace with the intent of murdering their own families, neighbors and themselves,” Kerry said. “That is what Boko Haram does. And that is why these terrorists have to be stopped.”
Kerry went on to say that Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has taken the fight to the terrorist group and crippled its ability to launch full-scale attacks. He warned, though, that Boko Haram remains “a serious threat to the entire region.”
“The threat that is posed by Boko Haram is serious. But it must not, and I really believe this, it will not be allowed to shape Nigeria’s future,” Kerry said.