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Talks Begin Between Somali Govt And Opposition

Talks begin between Somali Government and opposition group - UN

12 May 2008 - Talks between the Somali Government and an opposition group began today, and the top United Nations envoy to the war-torn Horn of Africa nation said that he was pleased that leaders have made the well-being and safety of their people their priority.

"Many, especially the young people, told me that this is a new and important first step towards stability in their own country," said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, said after the opening ceremony for the discussion held in neighbouring Djibouti.

The talks are bringing together the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia.

"I call on them to think of the terrible political, security and humanitarian crisis in their country and put all their efforts into resolving it," Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

Today's ceremony heard addresses from the Special Representative, the TFG, the Alliance and Djibouti's Minister of Muslim Affairs, as well as statements by the African Union (AU), the League of Arab States and the European Union (EU).

In a statement last week, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that this meeting is "a clear indication that Somalis are willing to respect their commitments when they believe in what they are doing."

He said that all Somalis, including those in the diaspora, want to work towards peace and security for their country, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.

"The overall objective of this meeting is to prepare the ground for a peaceful and brotherly relationship between Somalis and to initiate the first step towards real stability, true peace and sincere reconciliation based on forgiveness," the Special Representative said, adding that progress in these areas should pave the way for concrete UN assistance for durable stability in Somalia.

ENDS

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