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How much does the United States value Nigeria, its No. 2 supplier of oil? That is a question the US must weigh when the UN Security Council votes next month on expected proposals to impose various boycotts of South Africa. Nigeria and Washington are on good terms at the moment, but the Nigerians strongly oppose South Africa's racial policies.

"It's the one issue Nigeria expects us to see from its points of view," cautions John Paden, a Northwestern University specialist on that country. He suggests that if the US opts for a veto rather than an abstention, the cost could be a Nigerian decision to redirect some its oil exports to other markets.

Negeria sends about 40 percent of its exports to the US. Less likely as a retort -- but not without precedent -- says Paden, would be a move to nationalize US oil production facilities in Nigeria.m

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