(Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday offered strong support for Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, saying he had a “clear agenda” for defeating the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and was working to root out corruption.
Speaking as he greeted Buhari on his first visit to the White House since his election in March, Obama said the two leaders would discuss ways to cooperate against the group, which has wreaked havoc in parts of the West African country.
Obama told reporters in the Oval Office that Buhari has integrity and “a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram extremists of all sorts inside his country.”
Boko Haram has carried out multiple attacks in northern Nigeria, most notably the April 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian school girls who are still missing.
The specific tactics Buhari will use against the group are still unknown, say experts who study the region.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States could offer intelligence to help the Nigerian efforts as well as support for communities hurt by the group.
Buhari’s election was the first democratic power transition in decades, which Obama called “an affirmation to Nigeria’s commitment to democracy,” and the visit is meant to usher in a new chapter in relations between the two countries.