UN Security Council in Djibouti for Somalia talks

The Somali talks mark the start of a 10-day tour of regional hot-spots that will bring diplomats from the 15-nation council to Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Ivory Coast.

UN Security Council in Djibouti for Somalia talks
The U.N. Security Council arrived in Djibouti on Monday to meet key players in Somalia's conflict.

The Somali talks mark the start of a 10-day tour of regional hot-spots that will bring diplomats from the 15-nation council to Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Ivory Coast.

"We have to move forward. We don't have much time," South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo told reporters about Somalia.

The council is expected to meet Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, U.N. officials and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the head of the Eritrea-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) among others.

"The fact that the leadership of the ARS is involved in this process is an encouraging sign," Britain's U.N. envoy, John Sawers, told reporters.

But some figures, including Islamist insurgents, are boycotting talks in Djibouti.

Islamist-led insurgents have been battling the West-US-Ethiopian-backed Somali government since early 2007 after the Islamic Courts movement was ousted from Mogadishu and much of south Somalia.

The Security Council meetings are held in Djibouti because near-daily attacks in Somalia make it too dangerous to meet there.

On Sunday, insurgents fired mortars at a plane set to take President Yusuf to Djibouti. He was unharmed but the incident highlighted the risks facing politicians in Somalia.

A first session of U.N.-mediated talks was held in Djibouti in mid-May but there was no face to face meeting between the government and opposition.

Some Somali opposition officials based in Eritrea have dismissed the talks and say Sheikh Sharif and the others attending do not represent them.

They set the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops as a precondition for talks with the government.

A spokesman for the Shabaab militia, the armed wing of the Islamic Courts movement, ridiculed Islamists attending the Djibouti talks. The United States has called the group a terrorist organisation.

"They want to attend the conference because they are afraid to go into the list of terrorists, but our local mujahideen will continue the fighting," Mukhtar Ali Robow told local media.

South African envoy Kumalo said the meetings represented a "great opportunity" for Somalis to try to find peace.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2008, 18:03
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