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Nigerian President: Terrorism Must be Fought - 2001-11-02


President Bush has met at the White House with Nigeria's leader, Olusegun Obasanjo. The men discussed the ongoing war against terrorism and ways to increase trade with Africa.

President Bush says Nigeria has been an important ally in the fight against terrorism. He said one of the first telephone calls of condolence following the September 11 attacks came from the Nigerian president.

Standing with President Obasanjo in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush repeated his message that the military and diplomatic war against terrorism is not a broader campaign against Islam. That is particularly important for Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous nation with more than 50 million Muslims.

"He's got a huge Muslim population in his country, and I assured him and assured those Muslims who live in his country, that our war that we now fight is against terror and evil. It's not against Muslims. We both understand that the Islamic faith teachers peace, respects human life, and is non-violent," Mr. Bush said.

President Obasanjo says he and Mr. Bush agree that terrorism must be fought no matter what mask it hides behind. The Nigerian leader said the international coalition against terrorism is determined to pursue those responsible for the violence until they are stopped. "We have no doubt in our own mind that terrorism must be fought and it must be fought to a standstill," he said.

The leaders also discussed increasing trade with Africa. President Bush said prosperity can best be enhanced by a world that trades in freedom.

"Economic prosperity throughout the world is more likely to make people appreciate rule of law, appreciate other people's points of view. That is one reason that I have been such a strong supporter of AGOA, which is the African trade act," he said.

Mr. Bush praised President Obasanjo's efforts to reform Nigeria after decades of military rule. He called Nigeria a good friend, standing with the United States in its international coalition against terrorism.