One Somali summit not enough, London says

Feb. 9, 2012 at 9:50 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- While a conference in London on Somalia is meant to change the dynamic in the war-torn country, one summit likely isn't enough, a British official said.

Somalia hasn't had a functioning central government since the 1990s and the transitional leadership struggles to exert its authority beyond the capital Mogadishu.

London is the host for an international conference on Somalia this month. British Foreign Secretary William Hague, in a statement, said he was "convinced" the time was right to launch a concerted effort to encourage Somalia's development.

"We must try to change the dynamic in Somalia from one of inexorable decline to an upwards trajectory of gradually increasing stability and security, including human security," he said.

The Somali government, with the support of regional forces, has gained ground in its struggle with militant group al-Shabaab for control over the government. Aid groups, however, say they can't gain access to parts of the country under al-Shabaab's control.

Hague said a stable Somalia was "essential" for developments in the Horn of Africa but the international community must remain realistic about the prospects.

"We cannot turn Somalia around with one conference," he said.

Hague, during an early February visit to Mogadishu, said the British government was "actively" seeking to reopen its embassy "as soon as local circumstances permit."

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