Nigeria's Jonathan Meets Obama

The brief courtesy visit was one of five bilateral meetings Obama held Sunday, including with the leaders of Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Before formally opening the summit on Monday afternoon, Obama is to meet in the morning with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mohammed Najib Abdul Razak, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich, Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsian and China’s President Hu Jintao.

On Tuesday, Obama plans to meet with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his meeting with Jonathan, Obama agreed to work together on matters of global security, particularly nuclear security and non- proliferation issues, the White House said.

On Tuesday, the US and Nigeria launched a Binational Commission to help bolster ties. It marked a “concrete step forward” that would help “support the aspirations of the Nigerian people for a peaceful, prosperous, stable democratic future”, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a signing ceremony in Washington.

Nigeria has faced a leadership crisis since November, when President Umar Yar’Adua disappeared to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. Deputy Goodluck Jonathan took over in February, though Yar’Adua never officially handed over power.

The US is one of Nigeria’s top customers for oil exports, but Nigeria’s output has long been threatened by ongoing violence in the Niger Delta region.

Yalale Ahmed, the Nigerian secretary to the federal government, said his country’s problems were “not insurmountable”. The commission would help the west African nation “move forward in a more responsible way to enhance our chance of being a great nation”.

The commission will look at boosting co-operation in four areas: energy, agriculture, good governance and regional security. – SAPA