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Government, Opposition Plan Talks to Finalize Somali Peace Agreement

Meetings between Somalia's traditional government and opposition groups are to begin this week to discuss details of a peace agreement worked out in June.

In a statement Wednesday, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said the security and political committees will meet in Djibouti Saturday, August 16 to begin three days of talks. The office says the decision on timing was made after consultations with the government and the opposition alliance.

Both the Somali government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia will send delegates to the meetings.

The U.N. says Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, welcomed the development and invited members of the international community to show their support for the Somali peace process by attending.

The U.N. says expected attendees include Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, opposition leaders, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan and representatives of the United States, the European Union, the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Ould-Abdallah is calling on the Somali parliament to suspend its work, from August 15-20 to allow its members to attend the meetings.

Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991. Fighting between government forces and insurgents has killed thousands of Somalis and displaced more than a million others.