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Puntland minister says positive feedback from Ethiopia visit
BOSSASO, Somalia June 14, 2009 - A Cabinet minister in Somaila's self-governing State of Puntland returned home Saturday from Ethiopia with a delegation led by the Puntland Vice President, Radio Garowe reports.
Mr. Farah Aden Dhala, Puntland's Planning and International Cooperation Minister, spoke with community-based Radio Garowe via telephone after returning to Bossaso, the region's commercial hub.
“Our trip to Ethiopia was a follow-up of the President's visit in March,” Minister Dhala said, adding that discussions with Ethiopian government officials in Addis Ababa ranged from security to trade relations.
According to the Planning Minister, Puntland and Ethiopian officials discussed the possible opening of an Ethiopian Trade Office in Garowe, the capital of Puntland State, which would help facilitate travel and trade relations between the two sides.
Further, the discussions covered ways of establishing airline relations of direct flights between Addis Ababa and Bossaso in order to help improve commerce and strengthen trade ties.
“Our delegation also met with Ambassadors from several countries, including Sweden and Germany, while in Addis Ababa” Planning Minister Dhala said, adding that discussions covered anti-piracy efforts.
He noted that anti-piracy discussions with Western ambassadors were successful and that the Puntland delegation informed the international community of the “best way to fight against pirates.”
Lastly, the Planning Minister said that Ethiopian government officials want to play a “neutral role” in the conflict between Puntland and Somaliland.
“We expressed Puntland’s policy of retaking Las Anod and Ethiopian officials said they want Puntland and Somaliland to coexist peacefully,” Mr. Dhala added.
Las Anod, the capital of Sool region, has been at the heart of the Somaliland-Puntland conflict since Dec. 2002 when Puntland security forces took control of the provincial capital.
In Oct. 2007, Somaliland troops took control of Las Anod after fierce battles forced upwards of 50,000 civilians to flee.
Both Planning Minister Dhala and Puntland VP Gen. Abdisamad Ali Shire hail from Sool region, which is dominated by members of the Dhulbahante sub-clan within the larger Darod clan-family.
Source: Garowe Online