By VOA
30 April, 2018

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has met with American President Donald Trump in Washington.

It marked the first official visit by an African leader from south of the Sahara desert to the White House since Trump took office.

The American leader has been criticized for reportedly making insulting and offensive comments about African nations.

President Donald Trump (r) at a news conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House in Washington on April 30, 2018.
President Donald Trump (r) at a news conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House in Washington on April 30, 2018.

The meeting is being seen as an attempt to reset U.S. relations with Africa.

During public comments with Buhari, Trump talked mostly about common goals and shared interests. These included fighting terrorism and expanding trade.

"We love helicopters — he loves them more than I do," Trump joked. He was referring to his administration's decision to approve a $600-million military sales deal to Nigeria.

Buhari thanked Trump for approving the sales agreement. The administration of former President Barack Obama had suspended it in reaction to reports of human rights abuses in Nigeria.

"I worked it out so that now you can buy the helicopters that you want," Trump said. He added, "We make the best military equipment in the world, and our friends can now buy it."

Human rights groups have accused the Nigerian military of torture, rape and illegal killings in its nine-year battle against the Boko Haram extremist group.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the Islamist rebellion. Boko Haram has also kidnapped hundreds of school girls. The group's activities have spread to neighboring countries.

Difficult relations

Nigeria has been a major partner in the United States' fight against Islamist extremists in Africa. However, relations between the two countries have seen tension during the past year.

In December, Nigeria was among a group of United Nations countries that condemned Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In January, Nigeria joined a list of African countries angered by offensive comments Trump reportedly made about African nations.

Reporters asked Buhari if the issue was discussed in the meeting Monday.

He answered, "I'm not sure about, you know, the validity or whether that allegation was true or not. So, the best thing for me is to keep quiet," Buhari said.

Trump then said, "We didn't discuss it because the president knows me and where I'm coming from."

He added, "And you do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places."

Expanded trade?

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country. Its economy is growing quickly. Buhari's trip is designed in part to seek more U.S. investment.

Trump said the United States "hopes to be the economic partner of choice for nations across the continent."

China is currently the top investor in Nigeria.

Trump made it clear that he wants the U.S.-Nigeria relationship to be based on fairness.

"We give Nigeria well over $1 billion in aid every year, and we have already started talking to the president about taking down...the very substantial trade barriers," Trump said.

"We think we are owed that," he added.

I'm Caty Weaver.

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Words in This Story

refer - v. to talk about or write about (someone or something) especially briefly: to mention (someone or something) in speech or in writing

allegation - n. a statement saying that someone has done something wrong

validity - n. the state of being true or acceptable

tough - adj. having a lot of crime or danger