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Nigerian President Urges Cooperation to Solve Conflict in Delta

Bloomberg

By Tony Tamuno

July 21 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua called on rebels in the oil-rich Niger River delta to work with the government to resolve the region’s problems.

“We are ready to work with you to move the Niger Delta region forward in the interest of its long-suffering people,” Yar’Adua said at a reception in Yenagoa, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of the oil-industry hub of Port Harcourt, yesterday.

Armed attacks targeting oil infrastructure in the delta, home to Nigeria’s oil industry, have shut plants operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp. and Eni SpA, curbing production of the light, sweet variety of oil favored by U.S. refiners. Nigeria vies with Angola as Africa’s biggest oil producer and is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.

Yar’Adua last month announced a pardon for militants who lay down their weapons and renounce violence in a bid to end fighting in the region.

Last week, the Nigerian authorities freed rebel leader Henry Okah after he accepted the amnesty offer. The main militant group in the delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, responded by calling a temporary cease-fire and saying it will seek talks with the government.

“We shall do everything possible to ensure we place in position those factors that will make for peace, and these are justice and fair play,” Yar’Adua said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Tamuno in Port Harcourt via Johannesburg at [email protected].

Last Updated: July 21, 2009 02:19 EDT

Bloomberg.com Article

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