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Cliff Owen, Associated Press
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is interviewed by the Associated Press at Blair House in Washington, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Buhari says a multinational African force will be in place within 10 days to take the fight to the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram that has killed thousands and was behind the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls.

WASHINGTON — Nigeria's president says a multinational African force will be in place within 10 days to take the fight to the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram that has killed thousands and was behind the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls.

Muhammadu Buhari told The Associated Press Tuesday that Boko Haram would be defeated in 18 months or less. But he conceded that Nigerian authorities lack intelligence about the girls still missing after the mass-kidnapping from the northern town of Chibok in April 2014 that stirred international outrage.

He said his government is open to freeing detained militants in exchange for the girls' freedom, but only if it finds credible Boko Haram leaders to negotiate with.

Buhari was elected two months ago and met Monday with President Barack Obama.