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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 19:25 GMT
Somalia, Ethiopia mend fences
New Somali PM Hassan Abshir Farah
Farah is hopeful things will work out
The interim Prime Minister of Somalia, Hassan Abshir Farah, has said that Ethiopia has actively agreed to support reconciliation between the different factions in Somalia.

Speaking at the end of a visit to Addis Ababa, Mr Farah said the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, had promised to ensure that militia leaders opposed to the interim administration in Mogadishu, attend the next Somali reconciliation meeting.


We have agreed we are going to put the past behind us and look to the future for the sake of peace and stability in the region

Hassan Abshir Farah
Several militia leaders backed by Ethiopia stayed away from the last such meeting in Nairobi four weeks ago.

Relations between the two countries have long been tense, with a government in Mogadishu which has long accused Ethiopia of supporting faction leaders opposed to its authority.

For its part, Ethiopia has consistently accused its neighbour of supporting al-Itihad al-Islamia, an armed fundamentalist Islamic group, which operates inside Ethiopia and which the United States says has links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Optimistic

Both countries have denied the claims.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Ethiopia to support search for peace in Somalia

But as he left for home Mr Farah told the BBC: "I had a very successful meeting with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and we have agreed we are going to put the past behind us and look to the future for the sake of peace and stability in the region."

A statement issued by Ethiopia's foreign ministry appeared to back the forthcoming talks, although a date is yet to be decided.

A joint mission from the countries of the region, in the grouping known as IGAD, is expected to go to Somalia to talk to all factions in preparation for the Nairobi meeting.

Little influence

Correspondents say that Somalia's Transitional National Government is making renewed efforts to engage its opponents in dialogue.

The Somali delegation also met with officials of the Arab League.

A year after the transitional authorities came to power, they still have little influence outside the capital, Mogadishu.

Most of Somalia is controlled by powerful factions.

The country has had 10 years of conflict and lacks a credible government since the late President Siad Barre was ousted.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Africa
Somalis stranded in Ethiopia
12 Nov 01 | Africa
New PM in Somalia
08 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali company 'not terrorist'
05 Nov 01 | Africa
Moi reopens Somali border
26 Sep 01 | Africa
US targets Somali group
24 Sep 01 | Africa
UN pulls out of Somalia
21 Sep 01 | Africa
Somalia rejects Bin Laden link
17 Oct 01 | Africa
Starvation threat in Somalia
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