LAGOS - The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta said yesterday it had started formal peace talks with President Umaru Yar'Adua, three weeks after reinstating a ceasefire in the region.
The Movement for the Niger Delta (Mend) said a team of representatives including Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka and two retired senior military officers met Yar'Adua for more than two hours on Saturday.
The group reinstated a ceasefire three weeks ago after Yar'Adua met with Henry Okah, believed to have been Mend's most senior commander and one of the first militant figures to accept amnesty.
The amnesty programme and the pledges by government to address the underlying causes of the unrest appear to be the most serious effort yet to end instability in the Niger Delta, home to operations run by foreign firms that include Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron. - Reuters