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May 12th, 2014
05:28 PM ET

State Department official: It's Nigeria's 'call to make' to swap girls for prisoners

(CNN) – Would Nigeria's government negotiate with terrorists in order to secure the return of some 276 kidnapped girls? It may appear so.

"All options are on the table," a Nigerian government spokesman told CNN.

That conflicts with what Nigeria's interior minister told the BBC. He rejected the gambit, saying it was "absurd" for Boko Haram to try and set conditions.

The State Department seemed to caution Nigerian officials Monday against even considering a swap.

"Nigeria is in the lead. We are simply supporting their efforts," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. "The United States policy ... is to deny kidnappers the benefit of their criminal acts including ransoms or concessions."

"It's the Nigerians' call to make, to try to do whatever they can to secure the safe return, and the full return of the girls," said Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department's bureau of African Affairs Bisa Williams.

Asked if U.S. support will continue if Nigeria negotiates a prisoner release with Boko Haram, Williams reiterated United States policy "not to allow terrorist groups to benefit from their criminal acts, not to negotiate."

"What we are trying to do is to be supportive to the Nigerian effort. So this is going to be their decision and their strategy," said Williams. "We're trying to help with the information and our experiences from lessons learned the best way we can."

For more of our interview with the State Department's Bisa Williams, check out the video above.

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