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Kerry Doubles Down on Support for Nigeria's Fight Against Boko Haram

In this screen grab taken from U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama deliver remarks at the State Department in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2016.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with a delegation of Nigerian officials Wednesday for a day-long round of talks to discuss, among other things, the African country’s issues with terrorist groups.

During a mid-day briefing between sessions, Kerry acknowledged the challenges Nigeria has experienced with Boko Haram, and he reiterated U.S. support for Nigeria.

“It is an outrage that any group anywhere would brainwash young people, including little girls, to strap explosives to their bodies and walk into an open marketplace with the intent of murdering their own families, neighbors and themselves,” Kerry said. “That is what Boko Haram does. And that is why these terrorists have to be stopped.”

Kerry went on to say that Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has taken the fight to the terrorist group and crippled its ability to launch full-scale attacks. He warned, though, that Boko Haram remains “a serious threat to the entire region.”

“The threat that is posed by Boko Haram is serious. But it must not, and I really believe this, it will not be allowed to shape Nigeria’s future,” Kerry said.

Earlier in the day, Nigeria’s defense minister said the military had reclaimed much of the land once occupied by Boko Haram and it would be able to push the terrorist group out of the Sambis Forest within two to three months.

“Within one year, the coming of our president has changed the game,” said Defense Minister Dan Ali. “Look at what was happening before whereby three states, the whole eastern region, was under the terrorists. Now we may have maybe two local governments.”

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who joined Kerry at the briefing, credited support from the U.S. – and the international community as a whole – for the success Nigeria has experienced in battling terrorism within its borders.

Onyeama said the Nigerian government is putting mechanisms in place to address the root causes of terrorism.

“We really look forward to charting a path that will see us completely eradicating this scourge on our people,” he said.