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Nigerian Government Seeks Truce With Delta Militants

Nigeria says government officials and militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta have held several meetings in a bid to stem violence in the region. Gilbert da Costa has more in this report from Abuja.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua says his government has adopted a two-pronged strategy to deal with incessant violence in the oil-producing region.

Mr. Yar'Adua, who spoke in an hour-long interview on national television Sunday to mark his first one hundred days in office, said one element is a plan to address the grievances of the delta's impoverished communities, while the other aspect is negotiation with the rebels.

"We are putting measures in place to ensure that the situation is mopped up and that what happened a few weeks ago in Port Harcourt will not repeat itself, ever again. In that aspect the Niger Delta problem, there are really two aspects to it," he said. "The development aspect, which, this is what we are doing with the regard to the implementation of the master plan, and the security aspect."

Mr. Yar'Adua announced that the government had held several meetings with leaders of militant groups in the delta. He said a broad consensus has emerged on a road map towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis. A formal announcement is expected within two weeks.

Militants have kidnapped more than 200 foreign workers since 2006 in the Niger Delta, where most of Nigeria's oil is produced.

Police say gunmen killed a Dutchman in the unruly southern region on Sunday, with a note from his suspected killer on his body.

Officials announced on Saturday that a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on the oil city of Port Harcourt had been extended indefinitely.

President Yar'Adua, who took over power on May 29 after a contentious election in April, says security forces will sustain the ongoing crackdown on criminal gangs responsible for the uncontrollable crime wave in the delta.

Nigeria is the world's eighth-biggest exporter of crude oil, but its output has been crippled by attacks on oil facilities and personnel.