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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 10:48 GMT
Nigeria seeking N Korea missiles
TV footage of a previous North Korean missile test
North Korea's test launches have triggered international alarm
Nigeria has admitted it wants to develop a ballistic missile capability and has been in talks with North Korea.

A spokesman told the BBC they had been offered missile technology by North Korea but nothing had yet been signed.

Talks between Nigeria's Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and North Korean counterpart Yang Hyong-sop have been taking place in Abuja.

The United States, who regard North Korea as part of an "axis of evil", have expressed concern at the talks.

The Nigerian vice president's spokesman, Onukaba Ojo, said the vice president told his North Korean counterpart in ongoing discussions that he wanted "strengthened cooperation in the defence sector and in the area of missile technology".

He said the Nigerians had not yet agreed to any of the offers from Pyongyang officials and are not pursuing nuclear technology.

"They came to us wanting a memorandum of understanding signed towards developing missile technology, and training and manufacture of ammunition," Mr Ojo said.

"They were just trying to get us interested," he said. "We have not made any commitment."

Nigerian stance

Mr Yang is leading a North Korean delegation on a visit to Abuja.

President Olusegun Obasanjo met the North Korean official on Wednesday, but a Nigerian spokesman said nothing of a military nature was discussed.

Nigeria has the most powerful military in West Africa where it has led several peacekeeping missions.

North Korea earns most of its foreign exchange from international arms sales, correspondents say.

It has sold Scud-type missiles to several countries.

It is locked in a major stand-off with United States over its nuclear ambitions.

But Mr Ojo said that Nigeria would act in its own interests in any ongoing discussions with North Korea.

"Our relationship with each country is determined by what we believe is our national interest, and so the fact that North Korea has been demonised does not mean that Nigeria should avoid North Korea," he said.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said they would welcome a Nigerian decision to turn away any offers from North Korea.

"We want to stop North Korea's missile activities," he said.

Country profile: Nigeria
17 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: North Korea
13 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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