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Somali President Visits AU to Push for Peacekeepers


Somalia's interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf, is to visit African Union headquarters in Ethiopia Tuesday to seek deployment of foreign peacekeepers to his country.

Mr. Yusuf travels to Addis Ababa one day after A.U. and Western diplomats agreed to send experts to Somalia to study conditions for the possible deployment.

President Yusuf is pushing to strengthen his transitional government, which has little influence outside its base in the Somali city of Baidoa.

Islamic authorities in control of the capital, Mogadishu, have voiced strong objections to foreign peacekeepers.

On Monday, the United Nations said it would send a security team to establish formal contact with those authorities of the Islamic Courts Union. The head of the union has accused Ethiopia of sending troops into Somali territory - a charge Ethiopia denies.

Somali President Yusuf may discuss the accusation when he pays an expected courtesy call on Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi today.

Islamic authorities have said they are trying to bring order to Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government since 1991. Fighters loyal to the courts have taken steps to enforce strict Muslim (sharia) law in the cities they control.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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