UN chief, Nigerian leader discuss Sudan, Libya

Meeting in Abuja they discussed the deterioration of the security situation in Southern Sudan, after violence broke out in Sudan`s flashpoint town of Abyei.

Last Updated: May 23, 2011, 22:15 PM IST

Abuja: UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Nigeria`s newly-elected leader Goodluck Jonathan on Monday discussed the crises in southern Sudan and Libya.

Meeting in Abuja they "discussed the deterioration of the security situation in Southern Sudan," Ban`s spokeswoman said, after violence broke out in Sudan`s flashpoint town of Abyei.

The United Nations mission in Sudan said the town was ablaze on Monday with gunmen looting property after its capture by northern troops.

Soon-to-be independent south Sudan also claims Abyei district, which has a special status under a 2005 peace deal that ended 22 years of civil war. It has called the occupation "illegal".

World powers have condemned the seizure as a threat to peace between north and south Sudan.

On the second and final day of Ban`s visit to Nigeria, he and Jonathan also agreed on "the need for consensus with regard to the situation in Libya," Ban`s spokeswoman said.

Earlier Ban met Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia.

"We talked about the challenges still prevailing in Libya with the call for ceasefire and how that might be handled," Ajumogobia told reporters.

Ban commended Jonathan for his role in helping resolve the crisis in Ivory Coast.

As chair of a West African grouping ECOWAS, Nigeria took a leading role in calling on the former strongman Laurent Gbagbo to step down for elected and internationally recognised leader Alassane Ouattara.

Even as Gbagbo has been ousted and Ouattara installed, Jonathan warned that the cocoa-producing country still needed international backing.

"There is a critical need for the international community to remain engaged in Ivory Coast especially with respect to the urgent work of reconstruction; and the challenges of disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation," said Jonathan.

Ban arrived in Nigeria Sunday, his first trip here since taking office in 2007, from Ivory Coast where he attended the inauguration of Ouattara on Saturday.

Jonathan and Ban also discuss efforts to combat global terrorism. A young Nigerian was arrested after a botched 2009 Christmas Day plot attributed to Al-Qaeda, to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with explosives stitched into his underwear.

And he praised Nigeria`s "generous contribution" of troops to UN peace keeping operations.

Nigeria is seeking permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

"A situation where Africa is totally excluded from the permanent membership of the Council is unfair and untenable," Jonathan said in remarks to Ban.

His trip was focused on a campaign to combat deaths among young children and pregnant women.

Nigeria, Africa`s most populous country with 150 million people, has one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world.

"We have to prevent all these women and children who are dying needlessly from preventable diseases," said Ban.

Bureau Report