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Joint UK-Somalia press statement on the visit of the President of Somalia to London
Foreign Secretary David Miliband with President of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in London, 8 March 2010.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Saturday, March 13, 2010

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia visited the UK from 8-11 March 2010, meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other government ministers to discuss a range of issues.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia visited the UK as a guest of the British government 8 – 11 March 2010.  The visit provided an opportunity to hear about the TFG’s efforts to enhance peace and stability in Somalia and for open and frank discussions on issues of mutual concern.  The UK confirmed its support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and commitment to the Djibouti peace process.  The UK’s ongoing support to the TFG and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) demonstrates this commitment and the bond between our two countries.

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A peaceful and stable Somalia is vital to alleviate the suffering of the Somali people, who face an ever worsening humanitarian crisis.  And it is important to regional stability and prosperity in East Africa, the security of the United Kingdom and other countries across the world.  Unrest and lawlessness in Somalia have created the conditions for terrorism to flourish, seen most recently in the declaration by Al Shabaab of links with Al-Qaeda.  

During the visit the President met Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Home Secretary Alan Johnson, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Baroness Kinnock and Communities Minister Shahid Malik.

The Prime Minister and the President discussed recent progress on governance and encouraged the need to continue with their outreach and reconciliation efforts to all groups supporting peace in Somalia.  The Prime Minister confirmed the UK’s commitment to continue support to the TFG.  He also thanked the President for his government’s assistance in trying to secure the safe release of Paul and Rachel Chandler, held by pirates in Somalia.  Their detention remains of major concern to the British Government.

In his meetings with the Foreign Secretary and Minister for Africa, they agreed that continued support to the TFG and the Djibouti process should be at the core of the international community’s strategy to achieving long term stability in Somalia.  The Foreign Secretary acknowledged the dangerous, challenging conditions that the President, Ministers and Parliamentarians and the Somali people face every day in Somalia, as seen in the deadly 3 December terrorist attack that killed 4 Government Ministers, medical students and journalists.  The UK would continue to work closely with the TFG, United Nations and other international partners to deliver a cohesive and focussed programme of support.   During the meeting with the Foreign Secretary there was agreement in principle that the TFG would work towards opening an Embassy in London.

The Department for International Development’s (DFID) Secretary of State, Douglas Alexander, reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to providing support to Somalia during his meeting with the President.  Both agreed that the humanitarian situation was of great concern, with over 40% of the population requiring assistance and humanitarian agencies working in extremely difficult conditions.  The Secretary of State informed the President that the UK would be providing an additional £7.5 million to support humanitarian activities in Somalia, bringing DFID's humanitarian spending for 2009/10 to £19m, and DFID's total spending in Somalia to £30.5m.  The Development Secretary also announced a £5.8m programme to help promote peace and stability in the region by supporting reconciliation and local peace building initiatives between clans and communities.

The President welcomed DFID’s continued support, in particular their new governance programme that aims to promote stability and political progress in Somalia.  They discussed how the new programme will work not only with Transitional Federal Institutions to help them deliver a political transition by August 2011, but also with civil society organisations to promote  their role in policy making and in reconciliation and local peace building initiatives between clans and communities.

During his meeting with the Home Secretary he discussed the security challenges facing Somalia, particularly with violent extremism.  The Home Secretary outlined his decision to proscribe Al Shabaab, and that it was a tough but necessary process to tackle terrorism. The President welcomed this decision and both agreed that it helps sends a clear message to the organisation that both countries condemn its terrorists’ activities, and urge it to end the indiscriminate violence against the interests of Somalia and Somalis around the world.

With the Communities Minister there was agreement on the shared benefits for both countries in advancing political and economic stability and law and order in Somalia.  The President emphasised the importance of the UK Somali community playing a full and active role in contributing to British Society

There was also discussion with a number of interlocutors about the TFG’s determination to extend its area of control in Mogadishu.  There was shared understanding of the need to ensure the civilian population saw greater security, prosperity and governance as a result of the TFG’s actions.

An important element of the President’s visit was the meetings he had with the Somali communities in the UK.  The President welcomed the opportunity to meet them in London and Birmingham, informing them personally of the efforts and progress his government was making towards peace and prosperity for the Somali people.  The meetings provided an invaluable opportunity for the President to answer concerns and dispel some of the negative propaganda propagated by Al Shabaab about the TFG, AMISOM and the International community.

Further information

British High Commission in Kenya