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US to send team to Nigeria over Boko Haram

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The United States will send a team to Nigeria in the next few weeks to discuss with the new government ways to renew cooperation in the fight against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, a senior US diplomat said on Thursday.

Washington has quickly reached out to new President Muhammadu Buhari since his election victory in March and sent U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to his inauguration last week to underscore US interest in working with his government.

Tensions emerged between the former government of President Goodluck Jonathan and the Obama administration last year over corruption and human rights abuses by the Nigerian military in its campaign to crush Boko Haram.

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In his inauguration speech, Buhari vowed to defeat Boko Haram and called the group, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in March, “mindless” and “godless.”

“With the new government we are optimistic we can reset the relationship,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told a congressional hearing. “We want to work with him and have expressed that to him.”

She said Buhari had committed both publicly and privately to “do everything possible to address the situation in terms of resources and staff” to tackle Boko Haram, which launched its insurgency in 2009.

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U.S. officials have said the United States could send more advisers to Nigeria to train its military and help boost the economy, the largest in Africa, through more investment in its oil and gas sector.–Reuters

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