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Nigerian President Clarifies Military Agreement with US

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has clarified an agreement he made with President Bush regarding military cooperation between the two nations.

In an interview with VOA (Hausa Service) President Yar'Adua says that contrary to some media reports, he did not agree to allow the U.S. to establish military bases in Nigeria when the two leaders met Thursday in Washington.

Rather, Mr. Yar'Adua says he agreed to a partnership with the U.S. military's new Africa Command, AFRICOM.

Mr. Yar'Adua says that includes accepting U.S. assistance, weapons, equipment and logistical support to establish a stand-by force made-up of troops contributed by African countries.

The Nigerian president says he and Mr. Bush also discussed the situation in Nigeria's volatile Niger Delta region.

Mr. Yar'Adua tells VOA his government would soon sign a peace agreement that will include all the militant groups operating in the oil-producing region.

The United States is seeking an African headquarters for AFRICOM, which is currently operating out of Stuttgart, Germany.

The United States says AFRICOM will help African countries confront terrorism, natural disasters and other factors that could affect their stability. But several countries, including Libya and South Africa, have expressed concern the command will increase U.S. influence on the continent.

The Nigerian president is facing challenges to his election last April, which international observers said was badly marred by fraud and other problems.

Mr. Bush made no mention of the controversy, focusing his comments on a pledge to help Nigeria combat AIDS and to help the country improve public education.