Niger’s Junta Agrees to Dialogue with Benin Amidst Border Tensions and Pipeline Shutdown

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NIAMEY, July 3 (Reuters) – Niger’s military junta has consented to engage in talks with the government of Benin, facilitated by former Beninese presidents, to mend relations strained since Niger’s coup last year. The coup led to the closure of borders and the suspension of a China-backed oil pipeline.

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Following a meeting between Niger’s military leader General Abdourahamane Tiani and former Benin presidents Thomas Boni Yayi and Nicephore Soglo on June 24, Niger’s government announced on Tuesday its readiness for dialogue.

Authorities from both countries confirmed on Wednesday that a date for the talks has yet to be finalized. Resolving the dispute could pave the way for the reopening of the PetroChina-backed pipeline, which spans 2,000 km (1,243 miles) to Benin’s coast. Niger halted oil exports through the pipeline in mid-June amid escalating tensions over the border closure.

The strained relations between Niger and its neighbors escalated following the July 2023 coup, prompting sanctions from the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that lasted over six months. Niger has accused Benin of harboring insurgents aiming to destabilize the Sahel nation, an allegation Benin denies.

In June, the pipeline suffered minor damage when an armed Niger rebel group sabotaged it. General Tiani expressed openness to frank dialogue during discussions with the former Beninese heads of state, agreeing to establish a commission comprising representatives from Niger, Benin, and the visiting former presidents to ease tensions, according to Tuesday’s statement.

The former presidents subsequently met with Benin’s President Patrice Talon on Monday, where they affirmed the necessity of reinstating dialogue as agreed upon by all parties involved.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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