Somalia, Somaliland leaders continue Djibouti talks

ADDIS ABABA – Top level delegations from the government of Somalia and the administration of Somaliland met behind closed doors on Sunday in Djibouti under the mediation of Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, one day after the leaders of both sides met in the Horn of Africa nation.

According to a Djiboutian source close to the meeting, the talks are focusing on economy, peace and security.

The two parties held separate meetings with Guelleh on Saturday, during which Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met briefly with leader of the Somaliland administration Ahmed Silanyo.

According to the source, the two sides are expected to sign an agreement following the Sunday talks.

The delegation of Somaliland comprises 20 members while that of the Somali government included seven members, including the president and prime minister, the source said.

Relations between the two soured when Somaliland, that enjoyed relative peace all through Somalia's civil war period, declared independence through referendum, but the central government has never recognized the move.

The talks are the second of such wide-ranging negotiations after the two leaders met last year in Ankara, where a dialogue process kicked off.

In a communiqué that followed their Ankara meeting, the two sides pledged to share intelligence and cooperate in the fight against terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, toxic dumping, and maritime crimes.

Somaliland and Somalia emerged as one country in 1961 after achieving independence from Britain and Italy respectively.

But Somaliland broke away from the rest of the country in 1991 following the ouster of President Siad Barre and the outbreak of civil war.

Somalia, however, has consistently refused to recognize Somaliland's independence.

Until now, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace – compared to Somalia, which has remained in the grip of violence since 1991.

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