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Neighbouring countries must stay out of Somalia fighting, Annan says

Neighbouring countries must stay out of Somalia fighting, Annan says

Kofi Annan
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to Somalia’s neighbours to stay out of the spiralling violence in the country, where Ethiopia has admitted sending troops amid fighting between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

“It is essential that neighbouring governments stay out of this,” said Mr. Annan, who has spoken to Ethiopia’s president on the issue.

The Secretary-General made his remarks after leaving a closed-door meeting of the Security Council where the body’s 15 members were discussing their response to the fighting in Somalia.

“The Council is in genuine debate,” he said, voicing hope that the talks would soon reach a conclusion.

Today in Addis Ababa, representatives of the AU, the League of Arab States and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) discussed Somalia. “IGAD has indicated that they would want to deploy troops to Somalia,” the Secretary-General said, adding, “I’m not sure they would be able to do it in the current climate.”

He recalled his own call to the parties to return to the negotiating table in an effort to resolve their differences through dialogue and seek reconciliation.

“I would also appeal to neighbouring countries to stay out of the crisis in Somalia and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.”

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, said the Council should call on the two sides to halt the fighting immediately, not to take any further provocative actions, and resume their dialogue without preconditions.

Today, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that the violence has forced a suspension of air aid deliveries which are part of operations aimed at feeding up to a half million Somalis affected by recent floods.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. The TFG and UIC were holding talks in Khartoum but the latest round, scheduled for October, was postponed over the issue of preconditions, and violence between them flared earlier this month.