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In Nigeria, Penny Pritzker on search for kidnapped girls

WASHINGTON — Commerce Sec. Penny Pritzker, on a trade mission to Nigeria and other African nations, outlined U.S. efforts to find the Nigerian kidnapped girls during a speech in Lagos on Wednesday. “A team is now in place at our Embassy to provide military aid, assist in information gathering, and more,” Pritzker said.

In Washington this morning, Rep. Ed Royce R-CA Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, holds a hearing “to examine the Administration’s response to Boko Haram, particularly the terrorist organization’s recent kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian girls.”

As the Nigerian government has failed to find the more than 200 girls, abducted from their school, Pritzker discussed the missing girls in the context of international assistance available to the Nigerian government in her remarks.

“And I want to address the issue that is on all of our minds. To the north of here in the town of Chibok, hundreds of families are without their daughters today. As a mother of two myself, my heart breaks for these girls and their loved ones and friends,” Pritzker said, according to prepared text of her remarks.

“All parents, no matter where they were born or where they reside, hope that their children are always safe, and that their children have the opportunity to realize their dreams. That these young girls were kidnapped while pursuing their education is particularly unsettling, and the world is anxiously awaiting their safe return.

“The United States is supporting Nigeria as it works to find and free these young girls. A team is now in place at our Embassy to provide military aid, assist in information gathering, and more. Last weekend, the United States attended a meeting in Paris where President Goodluck Jonathan and the heads of state of the countries bordering Nigeria — Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin — pledged to work together to combat Boko Haram. With them, the U.S., France, the EU and the UK agreed that to prevent violent, extremist groups from making inroads into vulnerable communities, a comprehensive approach to promoting opportunity, inclusion, and security must be implemented in the region. We will help Nigerians do that. Our commitment is long-term; we will stand by Nigerians as they strive to defend and protect their sons and daughters, husbands, brothers, sisters and mothers,” she said.