ABUJA, Nigeria (CNN) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday visited Nigeria, warning it could be a target for al Qaeda.
The country has been racked by violence between Christians and Muslims, with hundreds having died in riots over the past several years.
"Al Qaeda has a presence in Northern Africa," Clinton said. "There is no doubt in our mind that al Qaeda and like organizations that are part of the syndicate of terror would seek a foothold anywhere they could find one, and whether that is the case here or whether this is a homegrown example of fundamentalist extremism - that's up to the Nigerians to determine."
Clinton met President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and other leading politicians in the capital Abuja, the latest stage on an 11-day African tour designed to show U.S. commitment to the continent.
In a town hall meeting she talked about the importance of democracy, making a reference to her own unsuccessful run for president last year.
"I have won some elections and I have lost some elections. And in a democracy there have to be winners and losers," she said, before looking ahead to Nigeria's next elections.
"Part of creating a strong democratic system is that the losers, despite how badly we might feel, accept the outcome, because it is for the good of the country we love," she said.
"And of course in my country the man that I was running against, and spent a lot of time and effort to defeat, asked me to join his government. So there is a way to begin to make this transition that will lead to free and fair elections in 2011,"
Nigeria is "the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa" and one of the most corrupt, according to a senior official on the trip.
It is a major oil and gas producer, one of the largest suppliers to the American market, said Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary at the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs.
Clinton opened her Africa trip in Nairobi, Kenya, then went to South Africa, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She will travel next to Liberia and Cape Verde.
The Obama administration is also using Clinton's tour to promote development and good governance.
She brought an offer of help Tuesday for victims - especially victims of sexual violence - in Africa's longest war, a regional conflict that's dragged on more than a decade.
"We want to banish the problems of sexual violence into the dark past where it belongs," she said during her visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a meeting with leaders of non-governmental organizations, Clinton said the United States will provide "more than $17 million in new funds to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence."
On Monday, Clinton had delivered a blunt message to Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito when he hosted a dinner in her honor.
"There must be an end to widespread financial corruption and abuses of human rights and women's rights," she said. "There must be an improvement in governance and the respect for the rule of law."
The United Nations estimates 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo since war broke out 12 years ago.
Updated: 4:54 p.m.
What does Bill Clinton think about it?
better get Bill in here quick,,,,Hill and Obozo can't seem to get anything done
Give Bill a call and see what he can do for you.
You are clearly out of your league.
I give Barack credit for keeping you out of the public eye. It was a very smooth move by the criminal.
But for you my dear you were better off in the Senate blowing hot air and acting like you could effect change.
Now you are washed up and looking pretty bad.
Nice OUTBURST covered the other day. You lost your cool a bit.
Call Bill. He will handle it for you.
Oh Hum, has Hillary accomplished anything?
Secretary Clinton was sent to Nigeria to get ideas for American healthcare "reform."
I think we need to send one of our Drones to the Congo and send those Men who are raping those children and women a nice little Bomb while they are out the in brush or wherever they choose to stay and take care of them. How can men be so cruel as to rape a little girl who is only 4 years old?
It make me want to cry.
Osama bin Laden is alive and well and currently playing golf with his pal George W. Bush in Saudi Arabia. Have a nice day!