China`s Li promises help to Nigeria to crackdown on militants

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang today pledged assistance to Nigeria to fight Islamic militant group Boko Haram, which recently kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls, as part of a rare joint anti-terror operation in which the US and European powers are also expected to take part.

Beijing: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang today pledged assistance to Nigeria to fight Islamic militant group Boko Haram, which recently kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls, as part of a rare joint anti-terror operation in which the US and European powers are also expected to take part.

Li promised to provide "any useful information acquired by China`s satellites and intelligence services," Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is under immense pressure to crackdown on the Islamic militants after the schoolgirls` abduction, said after his talks with Li at Abuja.

There is no reference to Li`s assurance, however, in the Chinese official media which is extensively covering his current Africa tour.

The visiting premier did not give details on Chinese assistance to the country that has the largest economy in Africa but merely vowed to "oppose and fight terrorism", Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today.

His pledge came as the US, Britain and France said they would send specialist teams to Nigeria to assist the Nigerian armed forces.

Boko Haram`s recent attacks have caused a global outcry over the kidnapping of over 250 girls during the last month near the country`s border with Cameroon.

China could provide satellite imagery and equipment such as night vision goggles to the Nigerian military to help it monitor militant groups in convoys in the desert terrain of northeastern Nigeria, said Jacob Zenn, an Africa analyst at the Jamestown Foundation.

China might have its own interests in dealing with the militant group because of its ties to the Pakistan-based Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which could pose a terrorist threat in the restive Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Zenn was quoted by the Post as saying.

On a mission to woo resource-rich Africa, Li in his address to the World Economic Forum on Africa in the Nigerian capital today said China will earmark more than half of its foreign aid for Africa without preconditions.

"China will, as always, continue to increase its assistance to Africa in both quantity and quality to the extent of its ability, ensuring that more than half of its foreign aid will go to Africa," Li was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

Li said China will never use its aid to interfere in the internal affairs of African countries.

The Chinese Premier has completed his visit to Ethiopia on the first leg of his Africa tour.
From Nigeria he is due to visit Angola and Kenya.
China is investing heavily in Africa in recent years supporting the construction of infrastructure projects and has offered significant preferential and commercial loans for 92 projects, worth a total of USD 11.3 billion between 2010 and 2012, the Xinhua report said. 

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