French PM visits Nigeria

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French Prime Minister Francois Fillon arrived in Nigeria on Friday on a the last leg of a west African trip that will take him to the country's oil-rich but restive southern region

ABUJA - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon arrived in Nigeria on Friday on a the last leg of a west African trip that will take him to the country's oil-rich but restive southern region.

Fillon, who visited Cameroon on the first of his two-leg trip, was met by Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe at the airport in Abuja.

He is scheduled to sign pacts on legal cooperation and helping sub-Saharan Africa's most populous nation improve security in the Niger Delta.

He will make an address to the 16-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), based in Abuja, before flying off to the restive oil-rich delta on Saturday.

Accompanied by Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie, the prime minister will visit an oil platform run by the French giant, which gets 10 percent of its oil production from the region.

The most active armed group in the Delta is the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) which claims to be fighting for a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth for local people.

MEND has been behind a series of kidnappings of staff and attacks on oil installations in the past three years.

Unrest in the region has reduced Nigeria's daily output to 1.76 million barrels compared with 2.6 million barrels in January 2006.

AFP / Expatica

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