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Tinubu receives Blinken, seeks US support for G20 membership

Nigeria has sought the support of the United States in its bid for membership of the G20 and a permanent seat in the United Nations…

Nigeria has sought the support of the United States in its bid for membership of the G20 and a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, disclosed this on Tuesday during a joint press briefing with the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, after a bilateral meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“Today, we’re happy and honoured to be receiving the United States Secretary of State, Blinken, here in Abuja the presidential villa, where we met with His Excellency, President Tinubu along with myself and a number of my colleagues ministers and during the meeting, several issues were discussed on the bilateral as well as multilateral issues.

“It is also important to note that President Tinubu brought up the issue of Nigeria’s membership and participation in the G20 as well as the United Nations Security Council.”

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While speaking, Blinken said Nigeria, as Africa’s largest country, largest economy, largest democracy is essential to the effort of the US to pursue her commitment to strengthen genuine partnerships on the continent.

He expressed the United States’ commitment to invest in tech and continue its support for health sector.

“Over the last five years, we’ve invested $8.3 billion in HIV and tuberculosis prevention, care and treatment, and in strengthening the public health system, reaching millions of Nigerians and that effort will continue.

“Our partnership is also strengthening Nigerian institutions to innovate and lead the region’s public health response. Tomorrow (Wednesday), in Lagos, we will get a chance to visit the Institute of Medical Research here in Nigeria,” he added.

The US top diplomat, who said America welcomed President Tinubu’s bold reforms to unify the currency and end fuel subsidy, expressed concern over foreign companies’ ability to repatriate capital, and corruption which, he added, were being addressed by the federal government.

He said: “Nigeria offers real opportunities for investors. At the same time I think it’s no secret that there remains long-term challenges that need to be removed to be able to really unlock the full potential, making it easier for foreign companies to repatriate capital.

“There remain some impediments that we hear from our own business community that I think stand in the way of maximizing those opportunities. One is the repatriation of capital.

“I know that the Central Bank governor is working on that and second is the ongoing effort to combat corruption because companies that come in and invest want to make sure that they’re going to be investing with a fair level playing field and corruption, of course, is a big impediment.

“Having said all of that, I do think we’re seeing real improvement. When we had the Africa Leaders Summit, hosted by President Biden, one of the commitments we made was to generate an additional $55 billion in private sector investment in Africa over the next three years. Well, here we are one year after the summit and we are 40% of the way to achieving that goal.

“By two years after the summit, based on the trajectory we’re on, we will achieve 70% of that goal and we will achieve that goal in the three years that President Biden set up.”

On security, Blinken expressed the determination of the United States to remain a security partner for Nigeria and extended the condolences of the American people to all Nigerians affected by the attacks over Christmas weekend and all killed in the recent attacks.

“As I told the president and the foreign minister, the United States will support it work to bring about a more secure, a more peaceful and more prosperous future for its people.

“I also share your own experience in combating terrorism around the world. That was highlighted on just how important civilian security, human rights and accountability are to achieving genuine and enduring security. We’ve had to learn our lessons. It’s important to us to share our own experience with our friends and discuss challenges to democracy and security in West Africa,” he added.

On Gaza, he said the US was clear in its opposition to displacements of people and change to the territory’s configuration.

In his reaction to a question on the Gaza ceasefire which put Nigeria and US at different angles, Ambassador Tuggar said both countries agreed on a common denominator that the way forward was a two-state solution.

Apart from Nigeria, Blinken is visiting Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, and Angola as he seeks to reinforce the US commitment to stronger relations with democracies in the sub-region amid global crises.

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