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U.S. says Nigeria agrees to American team joining search for kidnapped schoolgirls

WASHINGTON, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government has accepted a U.S. offer to send in a team of military and law enforcement personnel to help to locate and rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by an extremist group, the White House said on Tuesday.

Secretary of State John Kerry offered to send the team to Nigeria in his phone talks with President Goodluck Jonathan earlier in the day, to discuss how the United States can "best" support Nigeria in its response to the kidnappings, spokesman Jay Carney said at a daily press briefing.

"What Secretary Kerry offered and what President Jonathan accepted will hopefully lead to further assistance being provided by the United States in this effort," he said.

The proposed team "would include U.S. military personnel, law enforcement officials with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations, as well as officials with expertise in other areas that may be helpful to the Nigerian government in its response," he added.

Press reports said on Tuesday that at least eight more girls were kidnapped in Nigeria's Borno State, about 24 hours after Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the mid-April abduction of 234 teenage schoolgirls in the same region. The group's leader said they would be sold as brides.

President Jonathan had said his government had no knowledge of where the girls were being held.

"We are absolutely committed to helping Nigeria, but it is the Nigerian government's responsibility, first and foremost, to maintain the safety and security of its citizens," Carney said.

He ruled out using American forces in Africa in the search and rescue effort, saying "We're not considering at this point military resources."

President Barack Obama and Kerry would discuss the fate of the Nigerian girls in their meeting on Tuesday afternoon, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said.

"The president has directed that we and the secretary and the State Department do everything we can to help the Nigerian government find and free these young women," she told reporters at a daily news briefing.

The U.S. blacklisted Boko Haram as a terrorist organization in November and slapped sanctions on it, including denied access to U. S. financial institutions and a freezing on its assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

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