ABUJA, Nigeria — An alleged rift between the U.S. and Nigeria in their joint efforts to combat the militant group Boko Haram was the result of a "misunderstanding," a Nigerian government minister told NBC News.
Washington sent drones and dozens of training personnel to the West African country after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April. However, the relationship appeared to deteriorate as the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S. accused Washington in November of refusing to sell his country "lethal weapons" to combat the insurgents. Nigeria also canceled a training program of its army by U.S. personnel.
But Nigeria’s Interior Minister Abba Moro played down the rift. "There was a misunderstanding in recent times about the level of assistance and co-operation from the United States," he told NBC News. "Nigeria is prepared to ensure all hands are on deck, and has extended an invitation to the U.S. and all international communities siding with Nigeria."
Moro was speaking following a visit to Nigeria by Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday ahead of general elections next month. Kerry bluntly addressed the difficult relationship: "Does it always work as well as we would like or as well as the Nigerians would like? The answer is, 'no.'"
However, he stressed areas where the U.S. was working with Nigeria. "We are currently helping Nigeria to increase the capability of its military ... and to carry out responsible counterterrorism operations," he said.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said during the visit that he was "grateful to the United States for standing with Nigeria and its people in our fight against Boko Haram."
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