INTRO: The leaders of three rival Somali factions
have paid an unusual visit to Addis Ababa to meet with
Ethiopian officials. As Jennifer Wiens reports from
V-O-A's East Africa bureau in Nairobi, Ethiopia is
trying to stop Somalia's involvement in the conflict
between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
TEXT: Somali faction leaders Hussein Aidid, Hassan
Osman Ali and Omar Hajji Massala are rivals in the
ongoing struggle for control of Somalia and its
capital, Mogadishu. But on Friday, the three rivals
sat down together for talks with Ethiopian officials.
The Ethiopian government requested the meeting and
invited the Somali leaders to the capital, Addis
Ababa, for talks with Ethiopian Foreign Minister
One reason for the meeting is the mandate given to
Ethiopia by the Organization of African Unity to try
to bring peace to Somalia, which has been torn apart
by clan and militia fighting since its central
government collapsed in 1991.
Ethiopia is also concerned about growing Somali
involvement in the 19-month old border war between
Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia says Eritrea gives
Hussein Aidid's faction arms and military training.
In return, it says, terrorist groups use parts of
Somalia controlled by Mr. Aidid as a base to launch
attacks into southern Ethiopia.
One such group is the Al-Itihad Al-Islam, which is
allied with Aidid and fights to unite eastern
Ethiopia's Ogaden region with Somalia and establish an
Eritrea says it has no military presence in Somalia,
and in turn accuses Ethiopia of backing Aidid's
Official sources in Ethiopia say the Somali delegates
and Foreign Minister Mesfin discussed these issues
during Friday's meeting. The foreign minister
reportedly told the three Somali leaders they must
stop supporting forces opposed to Ethiopia, which have
been trained by Eritrea and operate from Somalia.
There was no indication if a final agreement was
reached between the Somali delegation and the
23-Oct-1999 11:39 AM EDT (23-Oct-1999 1539 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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