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    U.S. Set to Recognize Somali Government

    The United States is set to officially recognize the government in Somalia, opening formal diplomatic relations for the first time since 1993.

    Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are set to exchange diplomatic notes Thursday to confirm the new relationship.

    In an interview Thursday with VOA's Somali Service, President Mohamud says the recognition is a "step forward" and a "diplomatic achievement" for his government and for the Somali people in general.

    He adds that it will pave the way for Somalia to rejoin international bodies, and facilitate the rebuilding of the country.

    Somalia has not had a stable central government since warlords overthrew President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The country endured 20 years of conflict and lawlessness until U.N.-backed efforts to form a new government bore fruit last year.

    Thursday's meeting will be the first between Clinton and Mr. Mohamud since his election to office last year.



    A new parliament sworn in six months ago elected Mr. Mohamud president, ending eight years of an ineffective and often chaotic transitional government.

    The top U.S. diplomat for African affairs, Johnnie Carson, said the new Somali government has made significant progress in stabilizing the country and defeating al-Shabab Islamic militants.

    He 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.

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