U.N. leader hails Somali progress

Jan. 31, 2013 at 2:26 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- With a new government in place in Mogadishu, Somalia is in the early stages of a "profound transformation," said a visiting U.N. undersecretary-general.

U.N. Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman met with Somali leaders in Mogadishu. He said he welcomed efforts to build a new government after decades of war.

"Somalia is beginning to undergo profound transformation," he said in a statement.

Washington last week formally recognized the Somali government for the first time since 1991 as President Hassan Sheik visited the United States.

"This is a government which has both vision and a practical plan to implement it," said Feltman. "They have truly taken ownership of the process and our role is to do our utmost to support the Somali authorities, across the board and without hesitation."

Political transformation started late last year. The World Food Program announced this week it resumed operations in the port city of Kismayo after African-led forces helped free the area from the control of al-Shabaab.

The government, however, controls only a small portion of the country. The office of Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid was attacked this week but the prime minister wasn't injured.

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