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Kerry Meets with Nigerian President

Secretary of State John Kerry gestures while he and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari make statements prior to a working lunch at the State Department in Washington, July 21, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the State Department Tuesday, as the African leader continues a four day U.S. visit.

On Monday, the Nigerian leader met with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the threat posed by Boko Haram militants and other issues.

Obama praised the recent election in Nigeria marking the first democratic transfer of power since the end of military rule in 1999.

“We saw an election in which a peaceful transition to a new government took place," Obama said. "It was an affirmation to Nigeria’s commitment to democracy.”

He added he is very concerned by Boko Haram attacks and he believes President Buhari has a clear agenda about defeating the group and rooting out corruption that has held Nigeria's economic prosperity back.

Obama said he looks forward to discussing how the United States and Nigeria can cooperate on counterterrorism issues.

The four-day trip is Buhari's first to Washington since taking office in May in a rare peaceful transition of power in Nigeria.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday emphasized the U.S. commitment to working with Nigeria to help counter “disruptive terrorist activities.” But Earnest said such cooperation includes the requirement the Nigerian government improve its human rights record.

“To make sure that even as they are carrying out counterterrorism raids and other security operations, that they are mindful of the basic human rights of their people," Earnest said. "And that was certainly an important part of the conversation that the president had today.”

Buhari came to office promising change, and within days replaced the heads of Nigeria’s army, navy and air force.

In an opinion piece published Monday in the Washington Post, the Nigerian leader pledged to take the fight directly to Boko Haram while “instilling good governance and tackling the scourge of corruption.”

The United States and Nigeria appear eager to improve relations. Nigerian officials had turned down some of the assistance the United States offered to combat Boko Haram under former president Goodluck Jonathan.

VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande contributed to this report.