Building ties in Nigeria
The United States is trying to expand its diplomatic relations with Nigeria to go beyond economic aid and peacekeeping training, says U.S. Ambassador Howard Jeter.
Mr. Jeter participated in a weekend meeting of the Nigeria-U.S. Joint Economic Partnership Committee in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to explore ways to increase military and law enforcement cooperation in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“What we will like to look at is whether the mechanism that is now in place is appropriate or whether we should move beyond to a different kind of mechanism with extended and expanded goals,” he said at the opening of the biannual committee meeting.
“We must now ask ourselves the questions: Can’t we go beyond purely economic issues to talk about other key features of our relationship, perhaps military-military relations and law enforcement issues.”
Magnus Kpakol, chief economic adviser to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, told Agence France-Presse that Nigeria also wants to build a broader relationship with Washington “basically on all fronts.”
“We believe [Nigeria has] significant economic ties already with the United States, and we would like to build on that,” he added, noting that Nigeria supplies about 8 percent of U.S. oil imports.
The economic committee was formed two years ago to provide U.S. assistance to Nigeria, as it embraced democracy after 15 years of military rule.
Banking on Lebanon
The United States still is trying to get Lebanon to crack down on money laundering that helps finance groups that Washington lists as terrorists.
The latest move came Friday when U.S. Ambassador Vincent Battle and Riad Salameh, head of the Central Bank of Lebanon, signed an agreement to provide $630,000 in U.S. funds to finance a study on electronically linking Lebanese banks to boost security.
The goal of the Banking Virtual Private Network study is to “provide the Lebanese financial sector with a secure information and transaction exchange infrastructure for a payment system,” Mr. Battle told Agence France-Presse.
Lebanon has rejected U.S. demands that it freeze the assets of the militant group Hezbollah, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations but is moving forward with other laws to control money laundering. The Lebanese parliament has approved measures to freeze accounts of suspected terrorists without court hearings.
The diplomatic front
The Bush administration is sending one of its top officials to the Heritage Foundation tomorrow to discuss the diplomatic front of the war against terrorism.
Paula J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, will speak about the administration’s strategy for promoting democracy and human rights and “capturing the hearts and minds of the Muslim world,” the foundation said.
She also will discuss the administration’s plans to meet the humanitarian and governmental needs in a post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Those who are not invited can watch the 10:15 a.m. debate live at www.heritage.org.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh, who will meet President Bush tomorrow.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who will meet executives from Spanish companies in the United States. On Wednesday, he will meet President Bush, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. On Thursday, he will meet Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, who will open a meeting on aid to Guatemala at the Inter-American Development Bank.
Daniel Warner, deputy director of the Institute of Advanced International Studies of Geneva, who will discuss Europe’s commitment to the war against terrorism with guests of Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will receive the annual W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the National Democratic Institute.