Abuja (AFP) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted an invitation to travel to Cameroon for talks on regional cooperation to defeat Boko Haram Islamist extremists, his office said on Tuesday.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya was a noticeable absentee at a recent summit of regional leaders in Abuja to cement a new fighting force to take on the insurgents.
Observers attributed his absence to strained ties between the two neighbours, who squabbled for decades over the sovereignty of the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula until it was ceded to Cameroon.
Buhari last week told AFP in an interview that he was planning to visit Cameroon. On Tuesday he accepted an invitation from Biya delivered by one of his ministers, Buhari’s office said in a statement.
“President Buhari said that he will visit Cameroon for the high-level talks soon after the end of the Ramadan fast,” the statement read.
Buhari, 72, has made eradicating Boko Haram a priority for his fledgling administration, which has been in power for less than a month.
Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin have all agreed that a new 8,700-strong force should be deployed by July 30 to take on the Islamists.
The Nigerian government under Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan frequently complained about Boko Haram using northern Cameroon as a base to attack northeast Nigeria.
Biya’s envoy, Sadi Rene Emmanuel, told Buhari of Cameroon’s “fraternity, sympathy and brotherly commitment” to working with Nigeria to “eradicate the scourge of terrorism”, Buhari’s office said.