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US Restores 'Permanent Diplomatic Presence' in Somalia

FILE - Donald Yamamoto, the new U.S. ambassador to Somalia, speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Dec. 8, 2017. Yamamoto has 20 years of experience in Somalia and the East Africa region.

The United States has resumed a "permanent diplomatic presence" in Somalia's capital after an absence of nearly throe decades.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the new mission opened Sunday. "This historic event reflects Somalia's progress in recent years and is another step forward in formalizing U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu," the statement read.

The U.S. formally recognized Somalia's new federal government in 2013, but has based its diplomatic outpost at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

Veteran U.S. diplomat Donald Yamamoto arrived in Mogadishu last month as Washington's ambassador to Somalia.

The new mission will not be a full U.S. embassy, and some diplomatic staff are expected to remain stationed in Kenya.

The U.S. embassy was closed in January 1991 when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and Somalia descended into civil and anarchy.

Then-President George H.W. Bush deployed U.S. forces to Somalia in late 1992 to provide stability and allow aid to reach suffering Somalis.

But the mission turned tragic months later, when two U.S. military helicopters were shot down and 18 U.S. soldiers killed during an operation against a warlord.