WASHINGTON, May 9 (UPI) -- U.S. government officials have joined a British delegation in Abuja to augment the existing U.S. team already there to assist the Nigerian government's search for girls abducted from their school in Borno state last month.
"Our interagency team is hitting the ground in Nigeria now," Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, "and they are going to be working ... with President Goodluck Jonathan's government to do everything that we possibly can to return these girls."
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki declined to offer specifics regarding the composite of the inter-agency team, but did say the team will number "in the dozens."
More than 230 girls were abducted from their school on April 15 by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Parents and families of the missing have criticized the Nigerian government for failing to dedicate sufficient resources to find the missing girls.
The U.S. offered its assistance to the Nigerian president but that offer was not immediately accepted. Psaki explained that "in order to provide assistance and the resources that the United States Government has, you need to have a willing partner. And obviously, time is of the essence, and it's been now 24, 25 days since these girls were abducted."
The Nigerian president called Kerry on Tuesday to request America's help, said Psaki, adding "... we're going to move as quickly as possible at this point."