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Diplomats Meet in Kenya to Push Somali Peace Talks


Western and African diplomats are pushing Somalia's political rivals to go ahead with peace talks despite rising tensions.

The Arab League is scheduled to host another round of talks October 30 between Somalia's transitional government and Islamists who control much of the country's center and south.

Diplomats from the International Contact Group on Somalia met with officials from both sides in Nairobi Thursday in an effort to ensure the talks go forward as planned.

The government and the Islamists signed a non-aggression and mutual-recognition pact in June. The government has accused the Islamists of violating the pact by seizing new territory.

The Islamists meanwhile have declared holy war on Ethiopia, which is supporting the weak interim government militarily.

Today, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi acknowledged sending military trainers to Somalia, but denied deploying a large number of troops.

For several weeks now, witnesses have reported seeing Ethiopian troops in the Somali government base of Baidoa.

The government has international backing but little power outside Baidoa. Islamist forces seized the capital, Mogadishu, in June.

The Somali government was represented at Thursday's meeting in Nairobi by interim President Abdullahi Yusuf. The Islamists sent their foreign affairs coordinator, Ibrahim Hussein Adow.

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

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