By Vincent Ikuomola:
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met with Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, father of Farouk, who attempted to bomb an American aircraft last Christmas.
The meeting came ahead of Dr Jonathan’s visit to the United States tomorrow.
The Acting President is likely to raise the issue with President Barack Obama when they meet.
Dressed in a white babanriga, Mutallab came alone. He met with Dr Jonathan behind closed doors for about an hour.
The respected former bank chief declined comments when reporters sought to know what they discussed.
gathered that he was at the Presidential Villa to discuss his United States trip during which he met with American security officials in search of more information on his son’s activities.
The failed attack led the United States to include Nigeria on its terror watch-list – a development condemned by the government which demanded a reversal. Nigeria is off the list now.
Jonathan is visiting US on Obama’s invitation. During the visit, the acting president will attend a maiden nuclear security summit organised by the American government.
Dr Jonathan is expected back home on Thursday.
His visit is coming amid Washington’s concerns over the political situation in Nigeria.
The United States has been outspoken over the development, warning against heating up the polity.
After ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua was hurriedly brought back home, following Acting President Jonathan’s assumption of office, US warned that the President’s aides should not destabilise the country.
Talks on preventing global terrorism may top the agenda of both leaders.
Following the Christmas Day incident, Nigeria has started installing body scanners at its international airports after requests from the US, which first congratulated Jonathan after he became acting president in February.
US said it was encouraged that Jonathan would move on electoral reforms, anti-corruption measures and peace efforts in the Niger Delta.
On Monday, a senior U.S. official said the Independent National Electoral Commission chairman Prof. Maurice Iwu should be replaced if the country wants to hold credible national polls next year.
As part of efforts to strengthen bilateral relations, Nigeria and US on Tuesday in Washington launched an initiative for fostering greater cooperation.
The US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission (BNC) initiative was signed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Yayale Ahmed.
“Today, we are taking a concrete step forward that will strengthen and deepen the partnership between our two nations,” Clinton said at a joint press conference with Ahmed.
“And we hope it will support the aspirations of the Nigerian people for a peaceful, prosperous, stable, democratic future,” she added.
“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, its largest contributor of peacekeepers, a significant trading partner of the United States, its largest producer of oil, and the largest recipient of direct investment by the American private sector in sub-Saharan Africa,” Clinton said.
Clinton outlined four areas where working groups established under the initiative will focus – Good governance and transparency — considered essential to Nigeria’s democracy and its prosperity; Regional cooperation and development — to improve conditions in the oil-rich Niger Delta with specific emphasis on broad collaboration on security and counterterrorism.
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