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Mogadishu Aims to Strengthen Bilateral Ties With Rome

A Somali government official says Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke will meet Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the coming days to discuss ways of strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

The prime minister is currently attending a meeting in Rome aimed at supporting the new government's effort to stabilize the country. The meeting, which ends this Wednesday, was expected to address the political, security, humanitarian and development situation in Somalia.

It was organized by the International Contact Group established by the United States and Norway.

Somali government spokesman Abdi Kadir Walayo said Tuesday there is need for Mogadishu to strengthen its longstanding ties with Rome.

"As you know there is a traditional relation between Somalia and Italy and they are going to revive that relationship. And Italy was playing a paramount role in diffusing tension in Somalia for the last 20 years," he said.

Walayo said Rome is supporting President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government effort to restore peace to the capital, Mogadishu and the entire country as it battles hard line Islamic insurgents.

Walayo bemoaned the destruction of the country's infrastructure which he attributed to frequent clashes among insurgents.

"As you know, all infrastructures were shattered during the war," Walayo said.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the 1990 overthrow of President Mohammed Siad Barre.