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US Takes First Step To Arm Somali Forces

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U.S. President Barack Obama has taken the first step toward providing U.S. military assistance to Somalia.

President Obama issued a memo Monday to Secretary of State John Kerry that said Somalia is eligible to receive defense equipment.

The move does not immediately grant military assistance to Somalia. However, it allows Secretary Kerry to consider taking steps to do so in the future.

A senior Obama administration official says the authorization is part of a normalization of relations between the United States and Somalia.

The United States formally recognized Somalia's government earlier this year, the first time Washington has recognized a Somali government since 1991.

Last month, the United Nations Security Council partially lifted an arms embargo on Somalia to help government forces who are fighting Islamist militants in the country.

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FILE - President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland en route to Southeast Asia, November 17, 2012.

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