The Federal Government is ready to talk to Boko Haram militants to negotiate the release of more than 200 abducted girls, Special Duties Minister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki has said.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said on Monday that captured girls could be swapped for jailed fighters.
Turaki said told the BBC Focus on Africa programme that if Shekau was sincere, he should send representatives for talks.
The girls were abducted last month from a boarding school in the north-east.
A video emerged on Monday showing about 130 of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting Koranic verses.
Turaki , who is also chairman of a committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to find ways of reaching agreement with Boko Haram, said that Shekau should send people he trusted to meet the standing committee on reconciliation.
He said that “dialogue is a key option” in bringing the crisis to an end and that “an issue of this nature can be resolved outside of violence”.
Correspondents say that the government appears to have changed its stance in relation to talks, because it initially suggested there would be no negotiations with Boko Haram.
Government information agency director Mike Omeri said late on Monday that the authorities would “use whatever kind of action” it took to free the girls, and that a military operation – with foreign help – was possible.