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Westerwelle visits Nigeria to discuss Boko Haram

Continuing his trip through West Africa, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has paid a visit to Nigeria. He discussed the al Qaeda-linked group Boko Haram with the country's leaders.

Westerwelle's comments came on a trip to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, where he met with representatives from the government, including President Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday.

"We insist that Nigeria do everything to protect its citizens from terror violence," Westerwelle said.

Boko Haram is fighting for the establishment of Sharia law in Nigeria and has been blamed for terror attacks against the country's Christians in the past. Since 2009, around 1,400 people have been killed in such violence.

Boko Haram's second-in-command, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, made a surprise announcement on Thursday that his organization would be ready, under certain conditions, to discuss a ceasefire. In return, he demanded the release of all detained members of Boko Haram, and that the government assist with reintegration efforts for the detainees' families.

Credibility concerns

There were questions regarding the credibility of Abdulazeez's statement, however, which was given in a conference call with journalists.

"If what the proposed ceasefire is intended to achieve are the objectives of peace and security, then it is a welcome development," said Jonathan's spokesman, Reuben Abati, in a statement sent to the AFP news agency.

Amnesty International released a report on Thursday that accused the Nigerian government of committing massive human rights violations in their efforts to fight Boko Haram.

Westerwelle also met with members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). His discussions there were likely to focus on Mali, the country Westerwelle visited on Thursday during his tour of West Africa.

In Mali, Westerwelle pledged Germany's support to the interim government in its fight against al Qaeda-linked insurgents, who used a power vacuum created by a military coup in March to gain control over the north.

mz/dr (dap, AFP)