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Egypt, EU urge for comprehensive national reconciliation in Somalia

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Wednesday that Egypt and the EU urged for efforts to achieve a comprehensive national reconciliation in Somalia and the pullout of foreign forces in the war-torn country.

After his talks with visiting European Council envoy to Somalia Jean-Christophe Belliard, Abul Gheit told reporters that the two sides shared almost identical views with regard to the Somali situation, highlighting the importance of realizing comprehensive national reconciliation among the various Somali factions and the role of the Somali interim government in this respect.

Abul Gheit and Belliard also called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Somalia and replacing them with African peacekeeping troops.

Moreover, Abul Gheit noted that the off-and-on confrontations in Mogadishu posed a threat to people's lives and deteriorate the sectarian tension, calling on all Somali factions to exercise self- restraint and not to risk civilians' lives.

The Somali government should hasten preparations to hold a national reconciliation conference, Abul Gheit said, calling on the international community to take part in the conference to offer needed support and advice to make the conference a success.

Somalia has been wrecked by fighting since Ethiopian-backed transitional government troops ousted Supreme Council of Islamic Courts early this year from Mogadishu.

Ethiopia says it has started to withdraw some of its troops from Somalia and will gradually hand over responsibilities to the AU force.

An 8,000-strong AU force is needed to stabilize war-ravaged Somalia but only half of that number has been promised. Uganda is so far the only country that has sent 1,500 peacekeepers to Somalia.

Source: Xinhua, May 09, 2007