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US Diplomat Calls for Stabilizing Forces in Somalia


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer Friday warned that a stabilization force should be sent into Somalia to prevent further chaos, and announced more funding from the United States to help Somalia get back on its feet after recent fighting there. Frazer's comments come at the end of a daylong meeting of officials from the United States, European countries, the African Union and others to discuss how best to bring about stability in Somalia. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Frazer told reporters in Nairobi members of the International Contact Group on Somalia strongly support a peacekeeping force to be sent into the Horn of Africa nation.

"The Contact Group clearly felt that it was important that there not be a security vacuum in Somalia," she said. "But we also felt that it was therefore urgent to get a stabilization force into Somalia with a process also of political dialogue and reconciliation so that the role of that stabilization force will be sustainable in terms of bringing about real peace in Somalia."

Frazer also announced that the United States would provide $24 million in additional funding to support development and peacekeeping efforts in the country.

This is on top of the $16.5 million that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Thursday for Somalia.

Frazer spoke at the end of a daylong closed-door meeting in Nairobi between Somali government officials and members of the International Contact Group on Somalia, which includes the United States and European nations. Representatives from the African Union, Arab League, countries in the region, and others were also present.

Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf opened the event by calling for the rapid deployment of an African peacekeeping force into Somalia, as approved earlier by the United Nations Security Council.

Other agenda items included the funding for the peacekeeping force, the provision of humanitarian aid, the formation of a civilian police force and other security measures, and reconciliation efforts.

Frazer said that the United States is concerned about the threat of al-Qaida terrorism worldwide, and that U.S. policy is to work towards a stable Somalia.

"The fundamental way to address that threat is to get stability in Somalia," she added. "The opportunity that has now been presented to us to not have Somalia be a safe haven for terrorism [is] by the work of this Contact Group - we're putting an emphasis on getting development assistance, humanitarian assistance, technical assistance, and a stabilization force into Somalia is key."

Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs Raphael Tuju told reporters that Contact Group members urged the government to bring together representatives from clans, religious groups, women, the business community, and others for reconciliation talks.

Somalia has been mired in war for several weeks in which Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops have been battling with fighters loyal to the Islamic Courts Union.

The Islamists have abandoned their key posts of Mogadishu, Kismayo, and other places, and the Somali government says it now has control of Somalia.

Earlier this year, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of the capital and other areas, before reaching a truce with the government. Negotiations between Somalia's transitional government and the Islamic Courts Union collapsed in Sudan on November 2.

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