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Nigerian President in Liberia to Help Advance Peace Process - 2003-09-01

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is in Monrovia for talks with Liberia's caretaker President Moses Blah. The aim of the talks is to help advance Liberia's progress toward peace.

Nigeria has received much international praise, including from U.S. President George Bush, for its role in ending Liberia's civil war and setting the country on the path to peace.

About 1,500 Nigerian troops are stationed in Liberia as part of a west African peacekeeping force that is expected to reach 2,300 with the arrival of additional troops from Gambia. Nigerian soldiers were the first on the ground a month ago, and with U.S. assistance secured the capital Monrovia.

Nigeria has also played a significant role in Liberia's peace process by offering asylum to former president, Charles Taylor. Mr. Taylor's departure from office and Liberia was the key condition of the leading rebel group to signing a peace agreement.

President Blah, who was chosen to finish Mr. Taylor's term in office, is to step down next month.

President Obasanjo's state visit is seen as yet another step by Nigeria to move the peace process forward. He had earlier expressed disappointment with the continued fighting in Liberia's hinterland, even after the peace agreement was signed.

As well as meeting with President Blah, Mr. Obasanjo is to meet with the Nigerian leaders of the west African peacekeeping force.