June 12, 2006

US to hold Somalia meeting in New York

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will host an
international meeting on Thursday in New York to discuss
Somalia and how to support its interim government after
Islamists took over the capital Mogadishu last week.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United
Nations, Sweden, Norway, Britain, Italy and Tanzania had agreed
so far to attend the first meeting of the so-called Somalia
Contact Group and other countries might join the discussions.

We will be "talking about how the international community
and, in particular, these countries might coordinate their
policies, might bring together their political, diplomatic and
perhaps other resources to try to help support the transitional
federal institutions in Somalia," said McCormack.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 and
an interim government established in late 2004 is too weak to
enter the capital where militia loyal to Islamic courts seized
control a week ago.

The interim government, which has met members of the
Islamist side in Mogadishu, has repeatedly said it cannot
operate in the lawless country without the help of foreign
peacekeepers to provide security to the interim leaders.

But a senior Islamic judicial official warned Somalia's
interim government that talks on the country's future would be
broken off if its parliament invited in foreign peacekeepers.

A State Department official said he had not heard any
discussion about the issue of international peacekeepers being
on the agenda of Thursday's New York meeting.