World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria's government is reaching out to Boko Haram, talking with some of its members via "back room channels" as it seeks a peaceful way out of the north's conflict, the president's spokesman said on Sunday.
Reuben Abati, spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, told journalists talks were going on with some members.
"The form of the dialogue is back room channels ... to reach across with the objective of understanding what exactly the grievances of these persons are, what exactly can be done to resolve the crises," he told press at the presidential villa.
"The available options are not solely military action and it is on the basis of this that he had reached out to leaders in the parts of the country that are affected," Abati said.
A group of governors from Nigeria's largely Muslim north set up a committee on Wednesday tasked with trying to talk to the Boko Haram.
Abati said: "Social programmes to transform lives, to create wealth, to ... create jobs and to engage young people more effectively," would aim to starve the sect of recruits.
The main faction led by Abubakar Shekau maintains, at least in public, that it will not engage in talks with the government.
The closest the Boko Haram have come to acknowledging talks was in March, when a former ally of Boko Haram's founder Mohammed Yusuf acted as a go-between. The initiative fell apart in days.
The meeting is the first of the two absolute monarchs since a major rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia earlier this year and follows attempts by Doha to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
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