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International Delegation Meets Somali Islamists in Mogadishu

In Somalia, an international delegation has met with the Islamic group that seized control of the capital Mogadishu on June 5.

The team is comprised of 30 diplomats and experts from the European Union, African Union, Arab League and the East African Governmental Authority on Development.

Journalist Mohamed Duor says, Islamic leaders were eager to present themselves to the delegation as an established government, and have invited aid agencies and non-governmental organizations to return to areas under there control.

"It was the first time an international delegation has come here and met with one voice [the] Islamic authorities, civil society, business community," he said. "Somalis' hope is that a meeting will happen in Khartoum on the 14th July, but they must work with the government."

The internationally-backed interim government of Somalia and the Islamist leaders met last month, and are to meet again next week in Sudan.

On Wednesday, the international delegation met with the interim government, which is headquartered in Baidoa, nearly 300 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu.

The interim government asked for a foreign peacekeeping force to stabilize the country, a move strongly opposed by Islamic leaders.

The Islamic leaders from a group called, the Supreme Islamic Council of Courts, has imposed Sharia law in territories under its control, and has said that failure to attend Muslim calls for prayers is an offense punishable by death.

Somalia has seen more than a decade of lawlessness and civil war since the joint U.N. and U.S. coalition was forced to abandon a peacekeeping mission in 1995.