US President Barack Obama has said his administration will “do everything” it can to help Nigeria find nearly 300 teenage girls abducted three weeks ago by an Islamist extremist group that has threatened to sell them.
The US president describing the kidnapping of the girls by Boko Haram group as “awful” and “heartbreaking”.
“Obviously what’s happening is awful, and as a father of two girls I can’t imagine what the parents are going through,” Obama said in an interview with CBS news. In another interview he spoke about providing all help to rescue them.
“In the short term our goal is obviously is to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies,” Obama told the NBC’s “Today”.
Obama’s comments came after the US Secretary of State John Kerry said that he has accepted the offer of the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to “provide expertise on intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiations” in the search for the schoolgirls.
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“I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort, and it will begin immediately. I mean literally immediately.
“We are in touch, our Embassy is in touch. We’ve been talking with AFRICOM, we’ve been talking with the various entities, and I think you’re going to see a very, very rapid response,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with European Union High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton.
Kerry said the US Embassy in Abuja is prepared to form a coordination cell to help facilitate information-sharing.
“President Goodluck Jonathan was very happy to receive this offer and ready to move on it immediately, and we are immediately engaging in order to implement this,” he said.
Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for the safe return of the girls.
“It is clear that what has happened in Nigeria is outside the circle of civilised human behaviour. It is clear that kidnapping these girls challenges the conscience of the world in a very specific and different way. And maybe just that difference may be something that will make a difference,” Pelosi said.
In a statement, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the oldest and largest American Muslim umbrella organisation, condemned the kidnapping of and threat to sell off the Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Nigeria to use all of its resources and accept international assistance to bring the abductors to justice and return these daughters to their families.
“The US Senate, along with the rest of the world, will continue do all we can to help our Nigerian friends. And we will continue to pray for the safe return of these girls to their mothers and fathers,” he said.