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Home >> World
UPDATED: 07:28, July 19, 2006
International group urges dialogue between Somali govt, Islamists
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International group trying to coordinate a strategy for helping Somalia strengthen state institutions has called on the transitional government to initiate dialogue with Islamists who have taken over the capital.

In a communique issued in Nairobi on Tuesday, the International Somalia Contact Group, made up of western and African countries, called for a broad-based talks among all Somali groups.

The communique which was issued following a meeting of the group in Brussels, backed training and equipping a Somali army and police force, but did not endorse an African Union plan to deploy troops to the country in support of President Abdulahi Yusuf.

"The International Somalia Contact Group urges the transitional federal institutions (TFIs) and the Islamic Courts to resume immediately and without any preconditions the talks launched and facilitated by the League of Arab States in Khartoum on June 22," the communique said.

"All parties should refrain from inflammatory statements that fuel tension and undermine the search for common ground for a political settlement," it said.

Somalia's transitional government said it would boycott the peace talks scheduled for July 22 in Khartoum, Sudan, saying the militants that have seized control of most of the country's south massacred civilians and wants to topple the UN-backed government.

However, the Islamic Courts sent negotiators to Khartoum despite the boycott by the government, which was formed with the help of the United Nations but wields no real power outside its base in Baidoa, 250 km southwest of Mogadishu.

"The members of the International Somalia Contact Group are willing to support the development of an effective security sector in Somalia on the basis of a sustainable peace process," the group said.

"The International Somalia Contact Group urges the UN Security Council to consider with a sense of urgency modifying the arms embargo to allow for training, capacity building, and development of a broad based, representative security sector building on successful dialogue between Somali parties," it said.

"The International Somalia Contact Group urges the TFIs, Islamic Courts and all other parties in Somalia to firmly reject any violent extremist agenda and deny safe haven to terrorists and their supporters in compliance with existing international obligations as laid out in relevant UN resolutions and international conventions," it said.

The group was set up by the U.S. after the Islamists seized Mogadishu last month.

Somalia's weak, UN-backed government wants peacekeepers and a lifting of the weapons ban to rebuild security forces.

But Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has said there is no need for peacekeepers, as they have reunited the capital under their control after 15 years of anarchy and conflict.

Aweys has denied U.S. accusations that he and the Islamic courts have links to al-Qaida.

He also criticized the UN Security Council, which last week said it would back moves to lift the arms embargo and send peacekeepers.

The Islamic courts has controlled much of southern Somalia but another Islamist leader, Sheikh Sherif Sheikh Ahmed, has been quoted as denying reports the Islamist forces were planning to attack the government at its base in Baidoa.

Source: Xinhua

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