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Somali Government, Islamic Leaders to Meet in Khartoum

Islamic authorities who control Somalia's capital plan to meet with leaders of Somalia's transitional government in Sudan on Thursday.

The Mogadishu-based Islamic Courts Union says it is sending a 10-man delegation to the meeting, which was called by Sudan in its role as chair of the Arab League.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is to host the talks, aimed at getting the government and the courts to cooperate in efforts to stabilize Somalia.

The U.N.-backed government has been unable to act as fighters loyal to the Muslim (sharia) courts seized control of Mogadishu and other southern Somali cities.

On Tuesday, Somalia's interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf, said he will only meet with the Islamic Courts Union if it recognizes his government. Mr. Yusuf also accused the courts of receiving support from foreign extremists.

The Somali president made his comments in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he met with African Union officials at the organization's headquarters. Mr. Yusuf has been pressing the AU to send peacekeepers to his country.

Somalia's transitional government has little influence outside its base in the Somali city of Baidoa. African Union and Western diplomats agreed Monday to send experts to Somalia to study conditions for a possible deployment.

The leader of the Islamic courts, Sheik Sharif Ahmed, has voiced strong objections to foreign peacekeepers.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.