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US Approves $600 Million Sale of Attack Planes to Nigeria

FILE - An A-29 Super Tucano aircraft flies over Afghanistan during a training mission, April 6, 2016.

The Trump administration has approved a $600 million sale of high-technology attack planes and equipment to Nigeria despite ongoing human rights concerns.

The Pentagon said Thursday that the State Department had approved the sale and notified Congress, which has 30 days give its go-ahead.

The deal includes 12 A-29 Super Tucano planes, which are described as light attack planes.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the aircraft would support Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State terrorists and monitor drug, weapons and human trafficking.

"Nigeria is an important partner in the U.S. national security goal to defeat ISIS, including its branches in Africa, and this sale is part of the U.S. commitment to help Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries in that fight," an agency statement said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

In the final days of his administration, former President Barack Obama suspended the sale after a Nigerian jet bombed a refugee camp near the border with Cameroon, killing about 230 civilians who had fled from Boko Haram forces.

President Donald Trump telephoned Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari a few weeks later, saying he backed the sale of the attack planes to help Nigeria fight terrorism.

But U.S. officials said the administration was keeping the pressure on Nigeria to improve its human rights record.

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