There are reports Somalia's transitional government Sunday sent hundreds of troops backed by Ethiopian soldiers to recapture the strategic southern town of Dinsor, seized Saturday by the country's powerful Islamic movement. With the seizure of Dinsor, military sources said the Islamic Courts Union has now effectively surrounded the weak transitional government in its fortified base in Baidoa.  Here in Washington, a group calling itself Northern Somalis for Peace and Unity held a conference over the weekend to discuss peace and unity in their country.

Yasmin Hamud, one of the conference conveners discussed the purpose of the conference.

?We believe that the Somali problem will only be dealt with within the framework of holistic and strategic approach aimed at the empowerment of a central government to rebuild national democratic government and institutions and restore law and order in the country. We want to lobby the Bush administration and the American government for the problems that they have ignored for the past 15 years in Somalia,? she said.

Ms. Hamud said the group also wants to bring all Somalis together and create a movement to preserve the integrity of the country as well as keep out what she called the chaos and mishap happening there.

Faisal Roble, another convener of the Northern Somalis for Peace and Unity conference, said the group wants to engage both sides in the Somalia conflict.

?We don?t support anyone in particular. However, we are calling for the resumption of the Khartoum talks. We want to engage both sides to put their differences aside and come to the table in the form of power sharing. In fact, we are calling on the U.S. as part of our resolution at the end of the conference to ensure that talks have been resumed and engagement of both sides be carried out by the US government and other bilateral countries,? Roble said.

Ms. Hamud said her group is against any outside interference in Somalia, especially Ethiopia.

?Considering our history with Ethiopia especially, and the fact that they do have a vested interest in Somalia, that we have been at war with them in the past, we don?t think that Ethiopia should be one of the first countries that should get involved with our issues and with bringing peace and unity within the various governments of Somalia. We do, however, encourage the American government to stop ignoring the situation in Somalia and to lend a hand to the situation because it has been ignoring Somalia for 15 years, ? Ms. Hamud said.

Roble said Ethiopia?s involvement in Somalia might encourage the Islamists to resort to terrorist methods as has been alleged by some.

?They want, and in fact it would be to their advantage for Ethiopia to interfere in Somalia affairs simply because of the fact that historically, Ethiopia has been a neighboring enemy of Somalia,? Roble said.

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