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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Militants in first Nigeria talks
Militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari
Mujahid Dokubo-Asari was freed from jail last month
Nigeria's most prominent oil militant leader has held his first talks with the new government and promised to help end the violence in the Niger Delta.

Mujahid Dokubo-Asari met Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in the capital, Abuja, after a call for a ceasefire by another militant leader Tom Ateke.

"Abductions are not part of our struggle," Mr Dokubo-Asari said.

Attacks on oil facilities and the kidnapping of oil workers has cut Nigeria's oil output by 25%.

Mr Jonathan, who is from the Niger Delta, was sworn in along with President Umaru Yar'Adua in May, with the president promising to bring peace to the region.

Children seized

Further talks are underway in the port city of Calabar, away from the centre of the violence in the region.

Six different militant groups who are believed to be behind the recent spate of kidnappings are expected at the two-day meeting.

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On Thursday, the son of a Nigerian chief was kidnapped in the main oil city, Port Harcourt, as he was being driven to school.

The gunmen holding two-year-old Samuel Amadi, son of Iriebe Chief Eze Francis Amadi, are reportedly demanding a ransom of 50m naira ($393,000) to release him.

This follows the release of a British three-year-old girl on Sunday, after four days in captivity.

Mr Dokubo-Asari dismissed suggestions that his latest move might be an indication that he was angling for a job in the new government.

"Our struggle is a moral struggle for justice," he said.

Most Niger Delta residents live in poverty despite the oil wealth of their region.

The militants want a greater share of the profits to remain in local hands.

Some criminal gangs have also taken to kidnapping, as ransoms are often paid, although this is officially denied.





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