By Chinyere AMALU,Abuja
Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, yesterday said Nigeria is not on the United States Terror Watch List but on the list of â€œcountries of interestâ€.
Maduekwe made this statement in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists after the bilateral talk and signing of agreement on key economic issues between Nigeria and the Chinese government.
Maduekwe, who was trying to clarify the controversy surrounding listing of Nigeria by the American government on terror list, explained that Nigeria is on the USA countries of interest list, just like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, â€œbecause we are friends of the USA and are prone to terrorism after the attempt by Faruku to blow up American plane.â€
His words, â€œlet me use this opportunity to clarify this controversy. Nigeria is not on USA terror watch list. We do not believe that the current event, which involves a Nigerian in terrorist act, will alter that.
â€œDiscussions are on going to address this. Diplomacy will abide in here. We are not among the country supporting or engaging in terrorism and will never be. USA has said they will naturally look into traffic against these countries, which include thorough screening.â€
Maduekwe pointed out that even the inclusion of Nigeria on the country of interest is not acceptable, adding that Nigeria has enjoyed long lasting relationship with USA and have in any way acted as a terrorist country.
â€œBeing on the list of country of interest implies that citizens from these countries will be subjected to thorough checks, just like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. These countries are not on terror list, just like Nigeria. But even at that, it is not acceptable to us.â€
He noted that â€œWhat USA is doing is trying to strengthen their security for reasons well stated by Obama Administration and Nigeria has decided to follow up with diplomacy which we hope will put an end to all this.â€
On bilateral relationship existing between Nigeria and China, he said China is the largest country in the world with growing economy which has been a miracle to others, adding that Nigeria has enjoyed strong economic ties with China.
He pointed out that the visit of Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister, Yang Jiechi to Nigeria was to consolidate what has been agreed on during the visit of President Yarâ€™Adua to China in 2008.
Maduekwe noted that China is a strong supporter of Nigeria becoming one of the non_permanent members of UN Security Council Seat as strong member of five_country members of UN Security Council.