Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Germany Ready For More Business With Nigeria

Regardless of European Union’s stance against Nigeria over its last election, the German government is ready to do more business with the country’s new government, which was inaugurated two months ago.

The EU, although chaired by Germany, had expressed reservations over the conduct of the general elections.

But to show its seriousness, the German Foreign Affairs Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will this week lead an 81 member-delegation, including parliamentarians, to hold talks on cooperation with President Umar Yar’Adua and Foreign Affairs Minister, Ojo Maduekwe.

The minister is expected to arrive Nigeria on July 31 and will hold talks with the new Nigeria’s foreign minister on August 1 while he is expected to meet with President Yar’Adua on August 2.

He is scheduled to leave Nigeria on August 2 for Ghana, which is the second and final leg of his visit to Africa.

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Abdul Bin Rimdap, who confirmed this in an interview with our correspondent in Berlin at the weekend, noted that issues such as cultural and social dimension would be looked into.

"The visit is a way of showing Nigeria that Germany is willing to continue doing business with the country. Germany is the third largest economy in the world and has put Africa at the centre of its development programme.

" Nigeria was chosen because of the importance Germany attaches to the country and also because of the commitment of the government to continuation of the reform programme in the country," Rimdap noted.

An official of the German Foreign Affairs Ministry, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, however, noted that the visit would also enable the government to extend its "congratulations" to the Nigerian president for his victory during the election.

" Germany did not come out clearly to congratulate your president during the last elections. You know Germany chairs the presidency of the European Union (EU) at that time, and whatever position that was taken by the EU on Nigeria ’s election was that of the organisation," the official added.

Steinmeier’s visit to Nigeria and Ghana will be his second to Africa in less than two months. He was in Libya on June 10 as the Chief Negotiator on the side of Germany in the case of the imprisoned Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor.

The German EU Presidency and the European Commission exerted necessary influence on Libya to release the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor.

The German G-8 Presidency during the recently held meeting of industrialised countries in June in Heiligendamm agreed to scale up partnership with the African continent in the areas of good governance, strengthening the partnership of reform between G-8 and pro-reform African governments, fight against HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.

At a meeting with African representatives, including President Yar’Adua and President John Kufour of Ghana, during the G-8 meeting, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, assured that the G-8 was committed to the promises it made to Africa .

"We are aware of our responsibility and we will honour our commitments. US$60 billion has been pledged over the coming years to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa," she stated.

Germany has earmarked 4.5 billion euros (about N810 billion) for developmental aid this year, with Africa as the main recipient.

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