Cameroon and Nigeria make progress in border dispute after talks with Annan

3 February 2004

The leaders of Cameroon and Nigeria have agreed to a series of confidence-building measures and are considering striking a non-aggression treaty after United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan chaired formal talks between them over the weekend.

Following the talks in Geneva on Saturday, Mr. Annan praised the Presidents of Cameroon and Nigeria, Paul Biya and Olusegun Obasanjo, for showing what he described as "incredible statesmanship and leadership and wisdom" in attempting to resolve their border dispute peacefully.

Cameroon and Nigeria disagree over the sovereignty of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, an area near Lake Chad and their maritime boundary. Cameroon took the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which issued its ruling and delineated the boundaries in 2002.

The Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission was then established by Mr. Annan at the request of the two Presidents in an attempt to implement the ICJ decision peacefully. The Geneva talks at the weekend were designed to review the progress so far.

Mr. Annan met separately and then together with Mr. Biya and Mr. Obasanjo before the two national leaders issued a joint communiqué on the latest progress.

Cameroon and Nigeria have agreed to several confidence-building measures, including an exchange of ambassadors, the opening of consular services along their border and the introduction of joint patrols of security forces.

Mr. Annan said the two countries are also considering drafting a treaty of friendship and non-aggression between them.

The latest moves follow an agreement in early December to withdraw troops from the Lake Chad area, one of the disputed sections of the border. The Mixed Commission's next meeting is scheduled for Abuja, Nigeria, later this month.


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