The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Ms. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has given an indication of what could be the country’s decision to negotiate with the Boko Haram terrorist group for the release of the abducted Chibok girls who have been held captive for 90 days since their abduction.
Thomas-Greenfield gave the hint during an online interactive session with journalists in Africa, particularly on the effort of the US in helping Nigeria overcome terrorism.
She stated that, “we have individuals there (in Nigeria) from the civilian side who can provide assistance on negotiations.”
It is believed that this was an indication that negotiations to secure the release of the girls are likely underway without a direct military action.
Generally, the issue of negotiations with terrorists — specifically on the over 200 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls — has remained a very sensitive subject.
There were reports that the Federal Government has made aborted attempts in the recent past to negotiate for the release of the abducted girls. Besides, the Nigerian military itself has said it cannot possibly storm the location of the girls so as not to endanger the lives of the schoolgirls.
While the US does not officially negotiate with terrorists, the option of going through a credible third party was explored by the Americans leading recently to freedom of the country’s Prisoner of War, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Afghanistan.
Although the top US official for Africa did not explain why the US sent potential negotiators to help Nigeria in the case of the Chibok girls, there are US politicians who have been publicly advocating in local US Bringbackourgirls rallies for such negotiations, while others oppose such.
For instance, a US Democratic Party Candidate for the Congress in the November 2014 elections in New York, Ms. Pat Maher, told local US media that no option should be dismissed, including negotiations, to secure the release of the girls.
But Maher’s contender, from the Republican party, the incumbent US Congressman Peter King, who had also been active in securing the designation of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US State Department has openly objected to the idea of negotiating with Boko Haram.
Beside the hint of American negotiators in Nigeria, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, could not offer any specific update on the role of the American government except to repeat the promises made by both the US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry about two months ago.
At the online media interaction on Wednesday with US reporters on Africa and reporters from Africa, she was specifically asked: “What happened to the U.S. efforts regarding the seizure of about 200 girls in Nigeria by the Boko Haram?
She initially expressed surprise that the question came late during the press interaction but merely added that “as you know, both President Obama and Secretary Kerry indicated that we are going to work closely with the Government of Nigeria as well as countries in the region to do everything possible to bring these girls home.
“We are working with the Nigerian Government, both on the security side, but also in addressing broader issues related to the girls.”
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