16 May 2018

Nigeria: 'Nigeria Didn't Attend U.S. Embassy Relocation Event in Jerusalem'

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Nigerian flag.

Abuja — The Presidency yesterday said that Nigeria was not represented at an event during which the United States (U.S.) officially relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem contrary to some media reports.

It said based on the reports, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had already queried the Nigerian Ambassador to Israel to explain his presence at the event.

A top Presidency source, who spoke to journalists in Abuja but craved anonymity, yesterday said the Federal Government had also written to Al Jazeera, demanding a retraction of its story that listed Nigeria as one of the countries represented at the event.

The source said: "Based on that report, the minister queried the ambassador to explain why he attended the event.

"The ambassador has since replied that he was not at the event. It was on the strength of the ambassador's response that the Federal Government wrote to Al Jazeera to retract its story."

The U.S. had officially relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday, in a deeply controversial move that angered Palestinians and drew widespread regional condemnation.

The ceremony took place amid road closures and heavy police presence in anticipation of Palestinian protests, as well as demonstrations in Gaza calling for the refugees' right to return to the homes they were forcibly expelled from 70 years ago.

U.S. President, Donald Trump, who in December 2017 declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a move long sought by Israel, addressed the ceremony through a recorded video message.

"Today we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy in the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem, and we're opening it many, many years ahead of schedule," Trump said.

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