Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before Virtual Meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning.  Good afternoon, Mr. President.

STAFF:  Good afternoon.  The president will be here – two seconds.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Minister, good to see you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ONYEAMA:  Good to see you too, Secretary.  Excellent.  Looking well.  Congratulations also on your appointment and everything.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much.  And so great to be reconnected with you.  I appreciated our conversation on the phone of some weeks ago, and so good to be working with you again, Geoffrey.

Mr. President, very nice to see you, sir.  (Inaudible.)

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you very much.  (Laughter.).

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So good to see you again.

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I have such strong and good memories of our first meeting in Abuja six years ago, when you were gracious enough to receive me, and it really is very, very good to see you again.  Given our shared democratic values, our wide-ranging bilateral relationship, and very rich people-to-people ties, I’m especially pleased to be able to make Nigeria part of my first visit, virtual visit, to Africa as Secretary of State and thank you so much to you and your team for making this visit such a good one.  And I really wish we could be meeting in person again in Abuja.  I look forward to the day when that’s possible but meanwhile, thank you for your virtual hospitality.  I also want to thank my friend the foreign minister for joining today and for our good conversations and I’m so pleased to be working with him again.

Your Excellency, Mr. President, our relations have been strong for 60 years, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with you and your team on building on that foundation and charting a shared vision to guide our strategic partnership for the coming years.  I look forward to discussing our cooperation in responding to a challenge to all of humanity, COVID-19, as well as our sustained efforts to strengthen global health security, so we’re better prepared for the next disease outbreak.  I also hope to discuss how we can build our economies back even better and stronger after the pandemic, growing them and making them more equitable.  Investing and protecting the most vulnerable communities in our countries I think contributes to our goal of building a lasting security for Americans and for Nigerians.

And of course, another challenge we face is the climate crisis.  We were very grateful to you for being able to participate in the leaders summit last week that President Biden convened.  We look forward to exploring ways that we can work together even more closely to reduce emissions and adapt to the inevitable changes to come.  Our binational commission between the United States and Nigeria gives us and gives our governments the chance to evaluate every year the progress that we’ve made toward our joint goals: strengthening democratic institutions; promoting economic diversification and trade; expanding our security cooperation.  We’re very much looking forward to the BNC later this year and the chance it offers to improve our cooperative effort.

So thank you again for the very warm welcome.  Thank you for hosting us, and I very much look forward to hearing from you and then at some point in the future hopefully seeing you in person again.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State.  Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I want to congratulate your Excellency on your appointment as Secretary of State of the United States and wish you a very successful tenure.

Nigeria attaches great importance to the relations with the United States.  Let me in this connection express appreciation to President Joe Biden for his welcome and recent decision to appeal the immigration – to repeal the immigration restriction known as the Muslim ban on travel and visas for citizens predominantly from Muslim nations and African countries, including Nigeria.

I also wish to congratulate the United States for rejoining the World Health Organization and Paris Agreement on climate change.  The leadership of the United States in these two organizations is crucial for international community.  This action is a demonstration of the United States commitment in championing and supporting international organization with the aim to build a better world for all.

In this regard, Nigeria remains resolute in our commitment to supporting global efforts as enshrined in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which seeks to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The convening of the climate change summit last week by President Biden is a strong indication of the renewed interest of the United States to the Paris Agreement.

The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impact it more negatively by existing conflicts, negative pressures in the Sahel, Central Africa, and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad region.  Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and our security forces remain resolutely committed to continue them and addressing their root causes.

The support of important and strategic partners like United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concern, cooperation, and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

In this connection and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region, and the Sahel weighing heavily on Africa underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart in Germany to Africa, and near the theater of operations.

On the part of Nigeria, I renew calls for enhanced collaboration in all forms with our friends and strategic partners to work together for greater security for all – the most significant condition for overcoming these existential challenges.

Thank you again, Mr. Secretary of State, for this meeting, and kindly extend my best wishes to President Biden.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  And I will certainly do so.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUHARI:  Thank you.

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    Federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE) and the separately organized National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) within DOE, and uranium industry representatives have identified risks to the commercial supply chain for uranium needed for defense purposes. Such uranium may need to be mined domestically and enriched using U.S. technology to be free of obligations for the peaceful use of uranium and certain technology imported under international agreements. Identified risks to the unobligated uranium supply chain include (1) possible loss of domestic uranium mining capabilities and (2) possible challenges in re-starting the only facility in the United States for converting natural uranium into a form suitable for use in enrichment operations. Further, the U.S. has not had an operating enrichment capability that uses U.S. technology since 2013. Idle Domestic Plant for Converting Uranium to a Form Suitable for Enrichment DOE and NNSA have initiated actions officials believe will mitigate such risks to the unobligated uranium supply chain. For example, DOE and NNSA have both taken steps to reestablish a domestic enrichment capability with U.S. technology. In addition, DOE has proposed creation of a domestic uranium reserve to help support the domestic uranium mining and conversion industries until market conditions improve. DOE's fiscal year 2021 budget request includes $150 million for the reserve. However, we cannot conclude that the estimate is reasonable because it is unclear how the funding needs for the reserve were determined. By providing a more complete analysis to support future funding requests for the reserve, DOE could better provide assurance that such requests would achieve objectives. The Nuclear Fuel Working Group's strategy to mitigate risks to the domestic uranium industry does not fully incorporate all desirable characteristics GAO has identified for a national strategy. For example, it does not identify (1) the level of resources needed to support proposed actions or (2) an interagency coordinating mechanism. DOE is developing an implementation plan for the strategy, but DOE officials provided conflicting statements about the extent to which the agency will coordinate interagency implementation. NNSA has several defense needs for enriched uranium, including low-enriched uranium to produce tritium for nuclear weapons. To meet these needs, NNSA relies on commercial sectors of the domestic uranium industry, such as uranium mining or enrichment, which make up a supply chain for unobligated uranium. However, this industry faces commercial viability risks. In April 2020, the President's Nuclear Fuel Working Group released a strategy to mitigate risks to the domestic uranium industry. This working group includes DOE, the Department of Defense, and other agencies. Senate Report 115-262 included a provision that GAO review NNSA's planning for the future supply of unobligated enriched uranium. This report examines (1) risks agencies and others have identified to the unobligated uranium supply chain and agency actions to mitigate those risks, and (2) the extent to which the Nuclear Fuel Working Group's risk mitigation strategy incorporates desirable characteristics of a national strategy. GAO analyzed key NNSA and DOE planning documents and interviewed NNSA and other agency officials and industry representatives. GAO is making three recommendations, including that DOE improve its cost estimate to support future funding requests for the proposed uranium reserve and ensure its implementation plan for the strategy addresses each of the desirable characteristics of a national strategy. DOE concurred with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact at (202) 512-3821 or bawdena@gao.gov.
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  • Ohio Man Charged with Hate Crime Related to Plot to Conduct Mass Shooting of Women, Illegal Possession of Machine Gun
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury has charged a self-identified “incel” with attempting to conduct a mass shooting of women and with illegally possessing a machine gun.
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  • State Department Terrorist Designation of Saraya al-Mukhtar
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Service Acquisitions: DOD’s Report to Congress Identifies Steps Taken to Improve Management, But Does Not Address Some Key Planning Issues
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) relies on contractors to provide a wide array of services, including support for management, information technology, and weapon systems. DOD obligated about $190 billion on service acquisitions in fiscal year 2019 (see figure). Department of Defense Obligations for Service Acquisitions by Military Department and Defense Agencies and Field Activities, Fiscal Year 2019 Since 2001, GAO has highlighted service acquisitions as an issue for oversight within the DOD Contract Management area in its High-Risk List. Among other things, the High-Risk List and GAO's prior work have identified that: DOD's service requirements reviews were narrowly focused on individual contracts rather than entire capability portfolios, DOD's efforts to use its inventory of contracted services to inform management decisions were hindered by data collection issues, and DOD's budget exhibits did not clearly identify service acquisitions. In October 2020, DOD issued a report to Congress describing its current mechanisms and plans for managing and overseeing service contracts. GAO found that this report addresses some of the key issues identified in GAO's High-Risk List, but does not address others. Requirement reviews. The DOD report summarizes guidance the department issued in January 2020 that links requirements reviews to budget trade-offs, and clarifies the relationship between service acquisition management and category management activities. Category management is an Office of Management and Budget-led, government-wide initiative to reorganize government spending around fewer, larger contracts and use the government's purchasing power to buy like a single enterprise. These efforts have the potential to improve how requirements reviews support budget trade-off decisions within and across capability portfolios. Inventory of contracted services. The DOD report discusses the department's recent transition to the government-wide system other federal agencies use to collect data for their inventories of contracted services, and explains that this transition is intended to reduce the burden of data collection for defense contractors and improve compliance. However, the report does not discuss how DOD plans to use this data to inform decision-making and workforce planning, the key issues GAO has identified in past work. Future-year spending plans. The DOD report does not discuss our finding in a prior report that DOD could improve its ability to strategically manage service acquisitions by improving visibility on future budgetary requirements. Instead, DOD's report states that DOD plans to address capability gaps in budget planning for service contracts in a separate effort in response to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 that might address GAO's recommendations. DOD officials told GAO they are working to better understand that provision before initiating their effort. The Senate report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees on current mechanisms for overseeing defense service contracts, and for GAO to assess this report. DOD issued its report to Congress in the second week of October 2020. This GAO report assesses the extent to which that DOD report addresses service acquisition issues identified in GAO's High-Risk List and other products. GAO reviewed DOD's report to Congress on defense service acquisitions and GAO's past reports on defense service acquisitions, including GAO's 2019 High-Risk List and 11 other products issued between 2011 and 2018. GAO collected and assessed additional documentation from DOD offices and military departments, and interviewed officials from these offices and departments to collect additional information about DOD plans to improve service acquisitions. For more information, contact Timothy DiNapoli at (202) 512-4841 or DiNapoliT@gao.gov.
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  • Insitu Inc. to Pay $25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case Alleging Knowing Overcharges on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Contracts
    In Crime News
    Insitu Inc., headquartered in Bingen, Washington, has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting materially false cost and pricing data for contracts with the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Department of the Navy (Navy) to supply and operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the Department of Justice announced today.
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  • Former Air Force Contractor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Taking 2,500 Pages of Classified Information
    In Crime News
    A former contractor with the U.S. Air Force pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio today to illegally taking approximately 2,500 pages of classified documents.
    [Read More…]
  • Seattle Software Developer Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud for COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Seattle man pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud for carrying out a scheme to defraud several COVID-19 relief programs.
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  • Taiwan Individual and International Business Organizations Charged with Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Iranian Sanctions
    In Crime News
    Chin Hua Huang, 42, a resident of Taiwan, was charged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with participating in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. export laws and sanctions against Iran.  Also charged was Taiwan business organization DES International Co., Ltd. (DES Int’l) and Brunei business organization Soltech Industry Co., Ltd. (Soltech).
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  • Alleged Leaders of Gangster Disciples Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges
    In Crime News
    Seven alleged members of the violent Gangster Disciples gang, including top national and state leaders, are in custody after multiple arrests this morning for their alleged participation in a years-long interstate racketeering conspiracy involving multiple murders, drug trafficking, and other crimes.
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  • Disabilities Reported by Prisoners: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016
    In Justice News
    (Publication)
    This brief presents findings based on data collected in the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates, a survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with a national sample of state and federal prisoners across a variety of topics, such as their demographic characteristics, socio-economic background, health, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
    3/30/2021, NCJ 252642, Mariel Alper, Jennifer Bronson, Laura M. Maruschak [Read More…]
  • Michigan Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRS and to Steal Crash Reports from the Detroit Police Department
    In Crime News
    A Birmingham, Michigan, resident pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the IRS and to steal from an organization receiving federal funds, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
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