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Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Somalia mends fences with Ethiopia
President Abdulkassim
Somalia's president has not yet established authority
Somalia and Ethiopia are taking diplomatic steps to improve their troubled relationship.


The purpose of the visit is to make sure that we are on solid ground on many things

Somali Foreign Minister
In recent months, Somalia has accused its neighbour of launching cross border attacks into the south-west of the country, and actively supporting Somali warlords opposed to the Mogadishu government.

A nine-member delegation from Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday to "enhance friendly relations", according to a government statement.

Somalia got its first central government for nearly 10 years last August following a peace conference in Djibouti, but it has had difficulty in asserting its authority in Somalia, and most countries, including Ethiopia, have not recognised it.

On arrival in Addis Ababa, Somali Foreign Minister Ismael Hurreh Bubah took an upbeat view of the visit.

"The purpose of the visit," he said, "is to have in depth discussions with the government on many bilateral relations and to make sure that we are on solid ground on many things."

Situation worsens

The two governments first held talks in November last year but since then relations have become increasingly strained.

Meles Zenawi
Ethiopia's Prime Minister will continue to meet Somali warlords and delegates from Somaliland
In January Somali Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galayr accused Ethiopia of arming factions opposed to the government, occupying Somali districts and increasing its military presence in the country.

Ethiopia responded by saying the TNG was trying to divert criticism away from itself and find a scapegoat for its failure to impose its authority.

Ethiopia argues that, given its long border with Somalia, the country has legitimate national security concerns when the political situation is so volatile.

Similar claims and counter claims have been made several times since.

Somalia's Foreign Minister was keen to play down these disagreements.

Alternatives

Addis Ababa has also been the venue for talks between the Somali warlords opposed to the TNG.

In March in Ethiopia the warlords set up the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council to work towards what they described as a "legitimate" government in Somalia.

The Ethiopian Government says that it is committed to the peace and stability of Somalia, but it seems that Ethiopia feels that the Somali warlords are an important part of that stability.

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See also:

31 Jan 01 | Africa
Somalia's thoughtful 'warlord'
29 Nov 00 | Africa
Governing Somalia from a hotel
12 Jan 01 | Africa
UN backs Somalia peace mission
08 Jan 01 | Africa
Somalia accuses Ethiopia
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Somalia
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