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Arabs Launch Somalia Mediation Talks
by IOL (reposted)
Thursday Jun 22nd, 2006 9:23 AM
KHARTOUM — Sudan, current chair of the Arab summit, and the Arab League launched on Thursday, June22 , a mediation drive between Somalia's interim government and the Joint Islamic Courts, now controlling large parts of the Horn of Africa country.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir met delegations from the two sides on Thursday morning, officials said, but it was unclear if the delegations had held face-to-face talks, reported Reuters.

The Arab League then began a meeting of its Somalia committee, attended by Arab foreign ministers and the Somali government.

Sudanese officials said President Abdullahi Yusuf, whose powerless government is based in the provincial town of Baidoa, was attending the talks.

Sudan invited the Somali delegations and called the Arab League meeting to avert a new war in the Horn of Africa nation.

Tensions have risen between the government and Islamic courts since the latter defeated the US-led warlord Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) and seized full control of the capital Mogadishu on June.

Warlords had controlled the capital since the 1991 overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Barre.

After seizing Mogadishu, JIC fighters swiftly marched northwards, overrunning Jowhar and a string of other small outposts in Hiiraan region without heavy resistance.

The African country of10 million has lacked almost all the trappings of a functional state, such as national systems of education, healthcare and justice.

Direct Talks

The interim government and the Islamic Courts will have direct high-level talks later Thursday, the pan-Arab organization said.

"For the first time, both of them are going to meet face-to-face directly," Arab League chief Amr Moussa told Reuters after separate talks with the two visiting delegations.

"The Arab League is adamant about pushing for an understanding, for an accord," he stressed.


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