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Somali FM hails Somalia-China relations

By Ronald Ssekandi (Xinhua)

08:36, January 31, 2013

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Somalia's Foreign Minister Fowsiyo Yussuf Haji Adan highly regards relations between the troubled Horn of African country and China dating back to the 1960s.

The minister told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of the just-concluded African Union summit held here that in the 1960s, China built a hospital and a football stadium in the Somali capital Mogadishu, as well as a road linking central Somalia to the northern part of the country. "China has been a good friend of Somalia from the 1960s. When China was isolated, we helped China -- we campaigned for its entry into UN," she said.

"China has given us many projects and is willing to support us further. We are very grateful to the Chinese people and government, " she added.

She said Somalia is now on the move and needs international partnerships to ensure that there is sustainable development in the country after over two decades of war.

"Somalia is now moving from the mayhem that was going on for 20 years to rebuilding, reconstruction and development," she said.

Since the election of a new president and a new parliament last year backed by military successes at the front-line by AU troops and the Somali army against Al-Shabaab, there has been increasing international support to Somalia.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and some of his officials have been traversing the world seeking for financial assistance to help develop the country that was plunged into chaos after the overthrow of military strongman Siad Barre in 1991.

She said the government is focusing on six priorities including security, justice and financial management.

"Our president, our parliament is committed to bring back Somalia to normal. We have been talking to the international community. We traveled to the region first discussing and thanking them for the support they have given us," she added.

The minister said what is more critical for Somalia in terms of promoting economic growth is the reconstruction of roads, airports, ports and the generation of energy.

"Somalia is a very rich country, the marine resources, livestock, oil and gas, minerals, agriculture. We have 8 million hectares of agriculture land which is not cultivated," she said.

Once Somalia stabilizes with proper security services, she said, more Somalis will be willing to invest in the country.

Even with the current security situation, many Somalis are going back home.

"We have at least 1,000 people per month coming back. As many countries are having financial problems, a lot of people have decided to come back and invest in the country," she told Xinhua.

What Somalia now needs is to build up its security sector, so that the army and other security agencies can defend the territorial integrity of the country, the minister stressed.

She said while the AU peace keeping force in Somalia has played a critical role in ensuring the return of stability, they will at some point leave Somalia.

She said this means the capacity of the country's military and other security agencies has to be built up so that at the time the AU force is leaving, there is no security vacuum. "Somalia, all it needs is a very short time of stabilization and also proper planning," she said.

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