A senior U.S. diplomat says the United States is officially recognizing the government in Somalia, opening formal diplomatic relations for the first time since militants shot down two U.S. military helicopters in Mogadishu in 1993.
Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson says visiting Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will exchange diplomatic notes Thursday to confirm the new relationship.
Carson said the new Somali government has made significant progress in stabilizing the country and defeating al-Shabab Islamic militants.
African Union and Somali forces have pushed the militants out of a number of major towns. But al-Shabab still controls a large part of the country as it tries into turn Somalia into a strictly Islamic state.
Carson says U.S.-Somali relations are a long way from where they were when militants shot down two American helicopters in October 1993. Scenes of dead U.S. solders being dragged through the streets of the Somali capital were broadcast worldwide, arousing anger and revulsion in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Somalia has not had a strong central government since 1991. Various warlords and groups spent the next two decades trying to seize power.
A new parliament sworn in six months ago elected Mohamud president, ending eight years of ineffective and unstable transitional government.