Militants in oil-rich southern Nigeria say they will agree to a cease-fire if the government accepts former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as a mediator in the conflict.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) says Mr. Carter has agreed to mediate on the condition that the Nigerian government or any other stakeholder invites him.

Carter representative John Stremlau said the former president would consider mediating only if all sides requested it.

There has been no comment from the Nigerian government.

MEND says the government's acceptance of Mr. Carter would show it is serious about embracing genuine peace and reconciliation.

MEND has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, including an attack on a Shell oil flow station on Saturday.

Attacks and kidnappings by militants and armed gangs have reduced Nigeria's oil production by about 20 percent over the last two years.

The militants say they are fighting for a larger share of oil revenues for people living in the Niger Delta.

Nigeria remains Africa's largest oil producer, pumping more than two million barrels per day.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.