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US Denies Its Refusal To Sell Military Arms To Nigeria

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The United States has dismissed Nigeria’s claims it refused her the military equipment required to defeat Boko Haram.

US President Barack obama

She said the country has also shared intelligence with Nigeria, began training a new army battalion and held numerous high-level discussions with Nigerian authorities on additional measures to best address the Boko Haram threat.

Psaki said the only denial was the transfer of some Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria “due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations.”

Earlier in the week, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, Adebowale Adefuye, had told members of the Council on Foreign Relations that Nigeria was frustrated the US had refused to give the weapons needed to deliver the “killer punch” to Boko Haram because the US claimed to be concerned about Nigeria’s human rights record.

Below is the full exchange at the briefing:


video http://video.state.gov/en/video/3888517399001

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QUESTION: Can I go to Nigeria?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I just have probably time for one or two more questions.

QUESTION: Okay. I’ll try not to take up too much time.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: There was – the Nigerian ambassador here in Washington, D.C. invited some members of the Council on Foreign Relations to the Embassy on Monday. And basically, he gave a speech in which he said that Nigeria is not very happy with the United States at the moment, that he feels that you guys are not giving them the weapons that they need to really deal with Boko Haram, and that this statement that you have that it’s because you’re concerned about human rights allegations by the Nigerian army are just half-truths, hearsays put out by the opponents of President Jonathan and human rights groups.

I wondered if I could have your reaction to the comments that he made.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we first value our – highly value our longstanding and important relationship with Nigeria. Let me just lay out the facts of our assistance. Over the past six months, the United States has started sharing intelligence with Nigeria, began training a new army battalion and held numerous high-level discussions with Nigerian authorities on additional measures to best address the Boko Haram threat. We have also provided and approved sales of military equipment to its armed forces. These decisions are made, of course, after careful scrutiny to ensure they conform with United States law.

Earlier this year, we denied the transfer of some Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations. We shared those concerns with Nigeria before this decision and subsequent to it.

Nigeria has purchased helicopters that originated in countries other than the United States, and nothing in our decision prevents Nigeria from obtaining weapons and equipment from other sources. We’ll continue to look for ways to deepen our cooperation with Nigeria to help it acquire the systems and skills needed to restore peace and security. But obviously, we’ve provided a great deal of assistance over the past several months.

QUESTION: So other than the Cobra helicopters, is there any request from the Nigerian Government that hasn’t been met by the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I would ask them that specific question, but we’ve obviously provided them with a range of assistance, including intelligence sharing as well as military equipment.

QUESTION: And what about their response that the allegations of human rights abuses by the Nigerian army are just – are not substantiated?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we continue to urge Nigeria to investigate allegations of abuses perpetrated by Nigerian security forces, as well as offer Nigeria assistance in developing the doctrine and training needed to improve the military’s effectiveness. We wouldn’t be raising that concern if we didn’t feel and others didn’t feel that they were warranted.

QUESTION: So were you surprised by – was this building surprised by the ambassador’s comments on Monday?

MS. PSAKI: We did not review the comments in advance, no.

QUESTION: But so you were surprised, then, to – by the depth – I mean, it was a pretty angry statement that he made.

MS. PSAKI: I’ll leave it at what I conveyed.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:21 p.m.)

DPB # 192

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/11/233963.htm#NIGERIA
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