The United States is reaching out to Somalia's Islamic forces that this week seized control of Mogadishu, the capital of the East African country Somalia, the Washington Post said on Wednesday.
"We think that there is room for discussion with any viable political actor in Somalia," a senior US government official, who asked not to be identified, was quoted as saying.
"The situation is still in flux... but in terms of our strategic objectives," including preventing Somalia from becoming a haven for al-Qaeda operatives and addressing the country's severe humanitarian problems, "we've got to deal with the political realities on the ground."
That reality includes Monday's Islamic takeover of Mogadishu from US-backed warlords after months of fighting. The Bush administration has decided to make an attempt to deal with the victors "even if it's not the government we want," the official said.
"We cannot have perfect democracy in all parts of the world, right now the enemy is the al-Qaeda cell" that the Bush administration officials believe is present in Somalia.
US President George W. Bush said in Texas on Tuesday that his administration's "first concern, of course, would be to make sure that Somalia does not become an al-Qaeda safe haven, that it doesn't become a place from which terrorists can plot and plan. So we're watching very carefully the developments there."
Islamic militia, which have been fighting with an alliance of warlords since February, claimed control of the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Monday. More than 300 were killed and 1,700 wounded in the fighting. Many of them were civilians.
Somalia has been without a central government since 1991, when warlords first occupied the capital. US forces intervened in 1992 to protect famine aid and withdrew in 1994 after a Mogadishu street battle in which 18 American service members were killed.