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Foreign Ministers Discuss Somalia's Progress

FILE - Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia's president, addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 26, 2014.

Foreign ministers from seven countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development met Saturday to discuss political and security progress made in Somalia, as well as the country's anticipated 2016 elections.

The meeting in Mogadishu, the first of its kind in Somalia since 1991, brought together foreign ministers from Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud opened the session by thanking IGAD for choosing Mogadishu as the host, despite the many challenges facing Somalia.

"This IGAD council ministerial session is significant because it's the first time IGAD member states at this level are discussing Somalia's political matters inside Somalia," he said.

Mohamud said his country faces enormous challenges, but he attributed recent military gains to support from IGAD and African Union countries that have contributed troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping mission.

"Following the positive developments over the past two years, achieved with the support of our international partners and in particular IGAD member states, we have to continue working together towards the implementation of the agenda on the federal government of Somalia's political way forward," he said.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, chairman of the IGAD council of ministers, praised Mogadishu’s successful hosting of the IGAD summit and said IGAD had full confidence that Somalia would realize its 2016 visions.

"Our discussion focused on three areas," he said of Saturday's talks. "One is the Vision 2016 [a roadmap for constitutional reform, governmental reorganization and establishment of multiparty democracy], the second is on the security sector and the third is on the stabilization. And progress on all fronts is good and the implementation is on time, and we believe that the 2016 vision can be achieved."

IGAD member states have played a key role in stabilizing Somalia. Out of the eight IGAD member states, four have contributed troops to the AMISOM mission.

Officials from the United Nations and European Union and members of the diplomatic corps with bases in Mogadishu were also present at the session.

Security was tight across the capital for the meeting. Dozens of heavily armed soldiers and police patrolled the streets, and large areas of the city were under security lockdown before and during the one-day summit.

At the end of the event, Mohamud called on IGAD to pick Mogadishu once again for the IGAD head of state summit set for the end of this year.