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London conference to tackle terrorism in Somalia

(Xinhua)

10:21, February 16, 2012

LONDON, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- The British government on Wednesday said it hoped that an international conference to be held next week would tackle the problem of terrorism and instability in the African nation of Somalia and of piracy off its shores.

Britain is to host a conference in London to discuss Somalia on February 23, and around 53 nations and organizations are expected to attend the Conference, including the Somali government and the United Nations, represented by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Tim Hitchens, the Africa director of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), outlined the aims that the British government had for the Conference, and said that Somalia "represents a terrorist challenge to the rest of the world."

"For the past 20 years it has been perhaps the most failed state in the world. There have been many attempts to support Somali recovery," said Hitchens.

The lack of stable government had provided fertile ground for Islamic extremists to assume control of areas of the country and to export terrorism. The lack of strong central government had also allowed piracy to develop.

"There is evidence of international terrorism that emanates from Somalia, for example strikes into the Kenyan capital of Kampala which killed quite a significant number of people a couple of years ago,"Hitchens said.

Somalia continues to be an area of major humanitarian challenge, and a serious famine struck last summer which lasted until 10 days ago, said Hitchens.

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