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UN Envoy to Visit Somalia in Bid to Prevent War

A top United Nations envoy plans to visit Somalia next week in an effort to prevent war between the country's interim government and powerful Islamist movement.

The U.N. says Francois Fall will travel to the government seat of Baidoa Monday to meet with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf. A statement said the two men will discuss ways to preserve peace, security, and unity.

The U.N. did not say whether Fall will meet with Islamist officials whose forces control the capital, Mogadishu, and other areas.

The world body has urged the government and the Islamists to resume peace talks that broke down in Sudan last month.

The Islamists have refused to meet until Ethiopia withdraws troops it sent to Somalia to protect the government.

The two sides are preparing for battle outside Baidoa, the only town the weak government controls.

Diplomats fear an all-out war between the sides could reignite conflict between Ethiopia and its rival, Eritrea, which backs the Islamists.

A U.N. report this week accused seven countries of giving military support to the Islamists, and three countries of supporting the government, in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. The Islamists have dismissed the report as baseless.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.