updated 11/19/2007 5:50:49 PM ET 2007-11-19T22:50:49

Nigeria won't host the U.S. military's new Africa-wide military command, taking Africa's most-populous nation and a top source of American oil imports out of contention.

Nigerian leaders have been vocal critics of the new U.S. military command for Africa, which is seeking a home on the world's poorest continent. The government made its position official on Monday as President Umaru Yar'Adua met with state governors and federal lawmakers.

Nigeria is also against the U.S. command basing its headquarters elsewhere in West Africa, where the country of 140 million is a major military and diplomatic heavyweight, said Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki, who announced the government's position after the meeting.

U.S. military officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The U.S. has said it aims to better protect America's strategic interest in Africa and assist African countries with military training and conflict prevention. But a number of African countries — including Libya and South Africa — have expressed reservations about a move that could signal an expansion of U.S. influence on the continent and may focus primarily on protecting oil interests.

Africom currently operates out of existing U.S. bases on the continent with a headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. War-wrecked Liberia, settled by freed American slaves in the 1800s, is the only African nation that has publicly offered to host a headquarters.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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