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Nigerian President Noncommittal on Fate of Exiled Ex-Rebel Leader Taylor

Nigeria's President has declined to specify what will become of Liberia's one-time rebel leader and president, Charles Taylor.

Speaking with reporters as he left the White House, President Obasanjo stressed that crime cannot be condoned. He was referring to Charles Taylor, who stands accused of war crimes and who has been living in exile in Nigeria since 2003.

"We are concerned that whoever has done wrong must be brought to justice," he said.

But just how to bring Charles Taylor to justice remains a thorny subject.

Charles Taylor
President Obasanjo is under pressure to turn the ex-rebel leader over to a United Nations-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone, where he would be prosecuted for crimes against humanity for his role in propagating a brutal civil war that left tens of thousands of people dead. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution Wednesday urging the Nigerian leader to do just that.

But Nigeria maintains any request to terminate Charles Taylor's asylum must come from a competent authority in Liberia, which is to hold elections later this year.

President Obasanjo said he discussed the matter with President Bush, but gave no indication that the issue has been resolved.

"We have agreed that we will explore how we work together to achieve what needs to be achieved," he added.

Earlier, White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated the U.S. desire for Charles Taylor to face justice.

"We appreciate the constructive role that Nigeria played in ending the civil war in Liberia in 2003, when they accepted Charles Taylor," he explained. "The administration and Congress share a common goal that a way needs to be found for Charles Taylor to be held to account for the crimes he has committed. And we have been working with Nigeria, Liberia, the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union to address the matter, and that is what we will continue to do."

On other matters, President Obasanjo said he and President Bush spoke about Sudan, and agreed on the need to bring the situation in the strife-ridden Darfur region to a close. The Nigerian leader is chairman of the African Union, and U.S. officials say they are eager to see a boost in the number of African peacekeeping troops in Darfur.

President Obasanjo also said he wants greater stability in world oil prices as well as in the supply of oil. But he added that Nigeria alone cannot bring down world prices, and that such an effort requires unity among oil consuming and producing nations.