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Clinton to Meet Somali President Sharif

U.S secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to meet beleaguered Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in Kenya Thursday.

With this meeting, Secretary Clinton becomes the highest U.S. official to meet President Sheikh Sharif.

The meeting signals Washington's determination to bolster support for the Somali transitional government, which has been fighting hard-line Islamic insurgents.

The insurgents have refused to recognize the government and have vowed to overthrow the administration to institute the strictest form of Sharia law.

Somali Chief of protocol Abdirahman Yariso is currently with President Sheikh Sharif in Kenya. He told VOA that Thursday's meeting represents a golden opportunity for all Somalis.

"This is the first time a Somali president is meeting with a high delegation from the U.S. and this shows the commitment from the United States to Somalia," Yariso said.

He said despite the instability, the transitional government is determined to rebuild Somalia's ruined institutions.

"President Sheikh Sharif's administration wants to build institutions and wants to bring peace and stability in the country… This is an opportunity for him to discuss the issues with Secretary Clinton, and we hope the outcome will be one that will have the common interest of the United States and Somalia," he said.

Yariso described Thursday's meeting as a significant development towards the Mogadishu's determination to stabilize the country.

"This means hope for Somalia, and it means a golden opportunity for President Sheikh Sharif to come out and propose to the United States in order to combat international terrorism. In order to bring humanitarian assistance to Somalia and to those who are desperately in need… this means a lot to Somalia," Yariso said.

He praised President Barack Obama's administration's resolute support for stabilizing Somalia.

Somalia has been without an effective government after longtime President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who came into office early this year, has the backing of western nations.