The governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta state says officials have ordered the military to suspend attacks in the oil-producing south to encourage dialogue with militants whose assaults have slashed oil production.

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa announced the decision after a meeting Tuesday with military chiefs, state governors and Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu. Kachikwu on Monday called for the Niger Delta Avengers to "sheath their weapons and embrace dialogue." Community leaders have promised to support a new negotiating committee.

The decision comes days after a new group, the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, threatened attacks on government and oil company offices in Abuja and Lagos, the commercial center, to destroy infrastructure "built with our oil and gas monies."

The militants want local communities to have a bigger share of Nigeria's oil wealth.