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Somali Ambassador Takes Up Post in Washington

  • VOA News

FILE - Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, Aug. 8, 2010.

Somalia has posted its first ambassador to the United States since the East African government collapsed more than 20 years ago.

Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke met with U.S. President Barack Obama Monday at the White House.

Sharmarke told VOA that the development is a monumental step for Somalia. He said it shows that Somalia wants to deepen its relationship with the United States.

"My appointment actually signifies the importance in which Somalia sees its relationship and friendship with the United States," he said.

Last month, the United States announced that it also would reinstate an ambassador to Somalia.

President Obama has not said whom he will nominate for the position. The United States has not had an ambassador to Somalia since it closed its mission in 1991.

Somalia has endured more than 20 years of war and lawlessness since the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

In recent years, Somali forces along with African Union troops have been fighting Islamist militants from the group al-Shabab. The government forces have recaptured much of central and southern Somalia from the militants, but al-Shabab continues to launch attacks on government targets.