Voice of America
Thursday, 21, 06, 2012
Representatives from the Somali Transitional Government and the breakaway region of Somaliland began two days of talks outside London Wednesday on a wide range of issues, including the future of the self-declared republic.
Ten officials — five from each side — are taking part in the closed-door discussions organized by Britain and the European Union. The two sides agreed to meet during an international conference on Somalia's future in London in February.
During the conference, world leaders pledged new help to tackle terrorism and piracy in the troubled East African country, but insisted that Somalia's government must push ahead with forming a stable government.
Reports say that if an agreement is reached, a meeting between Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his Somaliland counterpart, Ahmed Siilanyo, will take place sometime next week in Dubai.
Somalia has endured two decades of civil war and poverty since the fall of its last stable government in 1991. More recently, it has struggled to deal with a devastating famine, as well as pirates and al-Shabab, a militant group seen as a threat to regional security.
Somaliland broke away from the rest of Somalia after the fall of the central government in Mogadishu. No country or international body has recognized it as an independent nation.
The de-facto government, which includes elected lawmakers, independent judiciary and three official parties, has maintained relative stability and peace in the region.