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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 13:20 GMT
Somali talks begin in Nairobi

The interim government in Somalia has begun talks with senior officials of two militia groups who, until now, have been strongly opposed to the Somali reconciliation process.

The informal talks are taking place in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

They involve the interim Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Abshir Farah, and officials of factions led by Hussein Aideed and Muse Sude Yalahow.

Both these factions belong to a larger grouping the Somali Reconciliation and Restitution Council which is backed by Ethiopia and which has consistently rejected the interim government.

A Somali peace conference should have opened in Nairobi last week.

It's not clear whether the talks going on now are a substitute for it.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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