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Reconciliation conference to go ahead: Somali president
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20:52, July 12, 2007

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The national reconciliation conference scheduled to be held in the Somali capital Mogadishu will go ahead whatever the security situation, said Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed on Thursday.

In a joint press conference with his former arch rival Haji Abdi Imam Omar, a leader of the powerful Hawiye clan, Yusuf said the conference will be held as planned even if nuclear weapons is fired at them let alone mortars.

The joint press conference was also attended by Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, another Hawiye politician who was opposed to the government and the presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia.

The two Hawiye leaders have earlier said they had solved their differences with the government and have formed their own Hawiye clan committee which has on Tuesday held a gathering supporting the national conference

"We extend our pardon to the insurgent fighting in the capital, " Yusuf said. "But those known international terrorists are not included."

The statement by the president comes as the capital comes under renewed upsurge in violence for the past week with the twice delayed national reconciliation conference only three days away.

The talks are expected to bring together more than 1,300 delegates from inside and outside Somalia. Organizers say they have sent invitations to Islamist leaders in exile in the Eritrean capital of Asmara.

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