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France proposes summit on Nigerian schoolgirl abductions

Bishkek (AKIpress) - image France has offered to host a summit with Nigeria and its neighbours focused on Islamist militant group Boko Haram, President François Hollande said yesterday.

Global outrage over Boko Haram’s abduction of over 200 schoolgirls last month focused attention on the group, which has destabilised large swathes of northeast Nigeria and its neighbours.

“With Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, I have proposed to hold a meeting with the countries bordering Nigeria,” Mr Hollande said during a visit to the Azeri capital of Baku, Reuters said.

“If the countries agree, it should take place next Saturday,” in Paris, Mr Hollande added. His aides said the leaders of Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger might attend. Britain, the EU and the United States would likely be represented as well.

France, Britain, the US and other countries have said they are sending experts to help Nigeria track down and free the schoolgirls.

Nigeria’s army has mobilised two divisions to hunt for them as Mr Jonathan’s government faces criticism for not responding more quickly to the abductions.

British prime minister David Cameronhas not ruled out the possibility that British troops could be used to help in a rescue. “We stand ready to do anything more that the Nigerians would want,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday.

“We can’t just pile in and do whatever we would like. It is immensely complicated because they are probably in this deep area of jungle that is three times the size of Wales, but it is good that efforts are being stepped up and we will do what we can.”

US first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday said she was outraged and heartbroken by the abductions, as she took the rare step of making outspoken foreign policy remarks about them.

In delivering President Barack Obama’s weekly video address, she condemned the “unconscionable” act by “a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education”.

Demonstrations in support of the missing girls have been held around the world, while the social media campaign continues to grow.

Mrs Obama and girls’ education campaigner Malala Yousafzai are among hundreds of people who have tweeted a photo of themselves with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls.

According to reports, the search is closing in on a forest near the border with Cameroon and the girls have been divided into at least four groups.


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