Local Somalis, envoy in talks over U.S. policy shift

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2010  02:52 AM


Local Somali leader Abdulkadir Ali says the U.S. should support a central government for Somalia.

Local Somali leader Abdulkadir Ali says the U.S. should support a central government for Somalia.

A significant shift in U.S. policy on Somalia is not sitting well with some local Somalis. Now, a U.S. State Department official is in Columbus to dispel misconceptions and answer questions about the policy change and other concerns.

Robert Patterson of the U.S. State Department’s Somalia Diaspora Outreach section is hopping from meeting to meeting with Somali leaders and others.

“We’re at a critical juncture,” said Patterson, who is touring Somali communities across the United States. “We want Somalia to succeed. We want a recognized Somalia that is at peace.”

In October, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson announced that the U.S. government would engage groups beyond the transitional government in Somalia. That includes governments in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland as well as groups opposed to al-Shabab, the Islamist insurgency group.

“We’ll deal with anyone except terrorists,” said J. Peter Pham, senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, a New York-based research group.

“We will talk to who we need to talk to about how to achieve what the U.S. needs in the region, which is security and stability,” said Pham, an expert on African security issues.




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