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Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before Virtual Meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
April 27, 2021

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning.  Good afternoon, Mr. President.

STAFF:  Good afternoon.  The president will be here – two seconds.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Minister, good to see you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ONYEAMA:  Good to see you too, Secretary.  Excellent.  Looking well.  Congratulations also on your appointment and everything.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much.  And so great to be reconnected with you.  I appreciated our conversation on the phone of some weeks ago, and so good to be working with you again, Geoffrey.

Mr. President, very nice to see you, sir.  (Inaudible.)

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you very much.  (Laughter.).

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So good to see you again.

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I have such strong and good memories of our first meeting in Abuja six years ago, when you were gracious enough to receive me, and it really is very, very good to see you again.  Given our shared democratic values, our wide-ranging bilateral relationship, and very rich people-to-people ties, I’m especially pleased to be able to make Nigeria part of my first visit, virtual visit, to Africa as Secretary of State and thank you so much to you and your team for making this visit such a good one.  And I really wish we could be meeting in person again in Abuja.  I look forward to the day when that’s possible but meanwhile, thank you for your virtual hospitality.  I also want to thank my friend the foreign minister for joining today and for our good conversations and I’m so pleased to be working with him again.

Your Excellency, Mr. President, our relations have been strong for 60 years, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with you and your team on building on that foundation and charting a shared vision to guide our strategic partnership for the coming years.  I look forward to discussing our cooperation in responding to a challenge to all of humanity, COVID-19, as well as our sustained efforts to strengthen global health security, so we’re better prepared for the next disease outbreak.  I also hope to discuss how we can build our economies back even better and stronger after the pandemic, growing them and making them more equitable.  Investing and protecting the most vulnerable communities in our countries I think contributes to our goal of building a lasting security for Americans and for Nigerians.

And of course, another challenge we face is the climate crisis.  We were very grateful to you for being able to participate in the leaders summit last week that President Biden convened.  We look forward to exploring ways that we can work together even more closely to reduce emissions and adapt to the inevitable changes to come.  Our binational commission between the United States and Nigeria gives us and gives our governments the chance to evaluate every year the progress that we’ve made toward our joint goals: strengthening democratic institutions; promoting economic diversification and trade; expanding our security cooperation.  We’re very much looking forward to the BNC later this year and the chance it offers to improve our cooperative effort.

So thank you again for the very warm welcome.  Thank you for hosting us, and I very much look forward to hearing from you and then at some point in the future hopefully seeing you in person again.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State.  Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I want to congratulate your Excellency on your appointment as Secretary of State of the United States and wish you a very successful tenure.

Nigeria attaches great importance to the relations with the United States.  Let me in this connection express appreciation to President Joe Biden for his welcome and recent decision to appeal the immigration – to repeal the immigration restriction known as the Muslim ban on travel and visas for citizens predominantly from Muslim nations and African countries, including Nigeria.

I also wish to congratulate the United States for rejoining the World Health Organization and Paris Agreement on climate change.  The leadership of the United States in these two organizations is crucial for international community.  This action is a demonstration of the United States commitment in championing and supporting international organization with the aim to build a better world for all.

In this regard, Nigeria remains resolute in our commitment to supporting global efforts as enshrined in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which seeks to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The convening of the climate change summit last week by President Biden is a strong indication of the renewed interest of the United States to the Paris Agreement.

The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impact it more negatively by existing conflicts, negative pressures in the Sahel, Central Africa, and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad region.  Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and our security forces remain resolutely committed to continue them and addressing their root causes.

The support of important and strategic partners like United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concern, cooperation, and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

In this connection and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region, and the Sahel weighing heavily on Africa underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart in Germany to Africa, and near the theater of operations.

On the part of Nigeria, I renew calls for enhanced collaboration in all forms with our friends and strategic partners to work together for greater security for all – the most significant condition for overcoming these existential challenges.

Thank you again, Mr. Secretary of State, for this meeting, and kindly extend my best wishes to President Biden.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  And I will certainly do so.  Thank you.