Somalia conference seeks end to unrest

Feb. 23, 2012 at 9:57 AM
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LONDON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- World leaders met Thursday in London to discuss ways to end terrorism and piracy in Somalia, reports said.

Representatives of several Somali factions joined U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the conference. There were, however, no representatives of the Islamist group al-Shabaab, which has a stronghold on most of the center and southern parts of Somalia.

British Prime Minster David Cameron opened the conference by expressing hope the talks would generate a "new momentum" to aid what London previously has called the "world's worst failed state."

The country, which has suffered more than two decades of famine and civil war, is at a "critical juncture," said Somali Prime Minster Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

"Twenty years of lawlessness, violence and chaos is enough. Somalis are ready to move on," he said.

The conference follows a decision by the U.N. Security Council Wednesday to increase the number of African Union Troops in Somalia from 12,000 to 17,000, the BBC reported.

Britain also has increased naval patrols off of the coast of Somalia, which have foiled several pirate attacks and kidnapping attempts. Al-Shabaab, which has joined forces with al-Qaida, has taken responsibility for kidnappings and attempted suicide bombings focused on the capital of Mogadishu.

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