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Nigeria's president visits Cameroon in continued efforts against Boko Haram

By Andrew V. Pestano
Nigeria's president visits Cameroon in continued efforts against Boko Haram
In January, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos during the Nigeria's general elections where Kerry urged the candidates to accept the election results. Buhari won the election, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. File Photo by State Department

YAOUNDé, Cameroon, July 29 (UPI) -- Newly-elected President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari is making his first official visit to Cameroon on Wednesday as part of his continued efforts to fight militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Buhari's one-day visit to Yaoundé, Cameroon's capital, follows visits last month to Chad and Niger, where he also discussed security efforts against Boko Haram. He was officially invited to Cameroon at the time, but could not attend due to a scheduling conflict as the G7 Summit in Germany was also taking place.

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The Nigerian president will meet with President of Cameroon Paul Biya, where Boko Haram will be central in discussions. Buhari's visit is seen as a diplomatic improvement between Nigeria and Cameroon, whose relations have been strained since the 1980s due to land disputes.

"The one-day visit to Cameroon aims to build a strong regional alliance to confront Boko Haram," one of Buhari's presidential spokesmen said.

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As Boko Haram spreads its insurgent violence to Nigeria's neighboring countries, Buhari has also been attempting to rally the continued efforts to combat the militant Islamist group. Thousands of troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin and Nigeria formed a coalition in an African Union-sanctioned effort to combat Boko Haram.

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Boko Haram was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2013. The militant Islamic group seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has ruthlessly targeted civilians.

Buhari met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House earlier this month, where he also discussed Boko Haram. Nigeria is looking for U.S. assistance in combating Boko Haram, but the United States refuses to sell the country weapons because of concerns over the Nigerian army's human rights record.

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