This Day (Lagos)

7 August 2012

Nigeria: Jonathan, Clinton to Meet On Thursday

United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, would arrive in Abuja on Thursday to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan in Aso Rock, THISDAY has learnt.

Clinton, whose advance party had arrived Abuja to put finishing touches to the preparations for her arrival, is also billed to meet with some government officials.

Though, THISDAY could not confirm the other Nigerian officials she would be meeting with, it is not unlikely that she would meet with senior officials in the Nigerian security and anti-corruption agencies - two of the key areas where US had been engaging the country.

THISDAY, quoting State Department sources, had reported last month that Clinton would be visiting Nigeria early August but at that time, the details of her visit was being harmonised by governments of both countries.

When her visit was officially announced some days later, Nigeria was missing on the list of countries the top US official would be visiting during her 10-day trip to Africa, fuelling speculations in some sections of the media that Nigeria was left out because of the state of security.

Confirming Thursday's visit, Nigerian Ambassador to US, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, told THISDAY on Monday that the US Secretary of State was initially billed to visit Nigeria on August 2 but the date was changed because of the longstanding commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan to attend Jamaica's Independence anniversary celebration, and Trinidad and Tobago Emancipation Day.

"I can confirm to you that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in Nigeria on Thursday, August 9. The reports in the media that she would not be coming to Nigeria is not true," said Adefuye, who is already in Abuja.

Speaking further, Adefuye said: "The initial plan was that she would visit Nigeria on August 2, but President Goodluck Jonathan had accepted to attend Jamaica's Independence anniversary celebration, and Trinidad and Tobago Emancipation Day as special guest months ago.

"And as the leader of the most populous black nation in the world, these two events are of great importance to us. The independence of Jamaica and emancipation of blacks are of great cultural significance to us".

He said US was informed that August 2 was not a feasible date and "they showed great understanding and appreciated the significance of President Jonathan's visit to Jamaica, Trinidada and Tobago."

Adefuye said it was therefore wrong for media reports to say that US was shunning Nigeria, insisting that the nation remains US most strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa - a fact that had been attested to by top US officials.

Clinton, who is on a 10-day trip to Africa, with stops in Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi and South Africa, met with leaders of those countries, in what a statement by the State Department said was, "to emphasise US policy commitments outlined in the Presidential Policy Directive - to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, advance peace and security as well as promote opportunity and development for all citizens."

From Nigeria, she will leave for Ghana as head of US delegation to President John Attah Mills' burial slated for August 10.

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