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Nigerian rebel leader arrives in Abuja for peace talks
Updated: 2004-09-29 17:13

Nigerian rebel leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari said he arrived in the capital Abuja on Wednesday for talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo after his group threatened a new offensive against troops in the oil-producing Niger delta and threatened to target oil workers.

Rebel leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force is surrounded by his soldiers as they prepare for war in the creeks of the Niger Delta in Nigeria September 28, 2004. [Reuters]

Asari told Reuters that the offensive, due to be launched on Friday, would be suspended if an agreement was reached on self-determination and resource control for the vast delta region, where almost all of Nigeria's 2.3 million barrels per day of oil is produced.

"I have just landed in Abuja to meet the president," Asari told Reuters. "All issues are open for discussion. If we reach an agreement Operation Locust Feast will be suspended," he added, in reference to the planned offensive.

Nigerian rebels of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force patrol the creeks of the Niger Delta near Port Harcourt in Nigeria September 28, 2004. [Reuters]

Asari's Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force on Monday threatened to launch an "all-out war on the Nigerian state" and issued a communique advising all foreign oil workers to leave the delta. He also told oil companies to shut their operations.

"Our position has not changed since the communique. All foreign citizens should leave the delta," Asari said.

Companies have largely ignored the instruction to leave, but they stepped up security in the vast area of mangrove swamps and creeks. So far only small amounts of oil output have been affected.

Companies fear a repeat of last year's uprising by members of the Ijaw tribe, who are in majority in the delta, which forced them briefly to shut 40 percent of the OPEC nation's oil production.

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