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Ethiopia says no plan to deploy troops in Somalia
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09:42, June 25, 2009

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Ethiopia has no plan to deploy its troops in neighboring Somalia despite escalating insecurity in that country, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Wednesday.

"We have no plans to do so for a number of reasons," said Meles.

He said Ethiopia believes that the situation in Somalia could be stabilized without the deployment of Ethiopian troops.

Through the international support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its allies in Somalia, Ethiopia believes that the situation would be resolved, he told journalists.

Ethiopia is not yet convinced that the situation would pose clear and present danger to its national security, Meles said, referring to the other factor for not deploying Ethiopian troops in Somalia.

In addition, he said the deployment of Ethiopian troops in Somalia would be unwarranted.

He reiterated that Ethiopia, which is in full support of the TFG in Somalia, now prefers to assist that country by means other than the deployment of Ethiopian troops.

In recent weeks, witnesses have reportedly seen Ethiopian troops inside Somalia, mainly around Somalia's border areas.

Meles admitted Ethiopia sometimes undertook military reconnaissance operations in border areas between the two countries.

But,Meles said Ethiopia has no plans to go back to Somalia.

Ethiopian troops entered into Somalia in late 2006 to back the embattled TFG against Islamist insurgents. But it has many times rejected accusations that it crossed back into the country in the wake of renewed fighting which has killed hundreds of local people.

On Monday, Somalia's TFG declared a state of emergency in the country to counter an Islamist insurgency that has been battling with the government forces, urging neighboring countries to send troops to help.

The neighboring Kenyan government said last week it would not sit back and watch security in Somalia to deteriorate further but declined to send troops.

The radical Somali Islamist leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, said on Wednesday that his forces would fight any foreign troops coming to aid the Somali government, reiterating his call for the African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Mogadishu to leave.

Nearly 4,300 peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are currently deployed in Mogadishu as part of the proposed 8,000-strong AU peacekeeping forces.

Somalia has been through nearly two decades of civil strife and the current Somali government is the fifteenth attempt at setting up strong central authority for the fragmented Horn of Africa country.

Source: Xinhua

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