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US Diplomat Makes Surprise Visit to Somalia

The top U.S. diplomat for Africa has arrived in Somalia, on a surprise visit for talks with the east African nation's transitional leadership.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer met Saturday with President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi in the former temporary capital of Baidoa. Frazer is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia since 1994.

Officials familiar with her mission say she is in Somalia to support national reconciliation there.

Frazer's visit comes on the sixth day of a truce following a week of fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali forces in Mogadishu. More than 380 civilians were killed in those clashes.

A national reconciliation conference is planned for April 16 in the Somali capital. It is aimed at stabilizing the country after years of anarchy and violence.

The United States and other countries have called on Somalia to be inclusive in the people it invites to the conference. Diplomats say the government must invite some members of the Islamist movement as well as traditional clan leaders and other members of civil society.

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