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Top UN Official Upbeat About Somali Reconciliation Conference

08 June 2007

The top U.N. political officer, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, visited Somalia Friday where he said he is upbeat about the reconciliation conference, due to take place on Thursday. Katy Migiro has more on the story from the VOA bureau in Nairobi.

Lynn Pascoe spent four hours in Mogadishu where he met with the prime minister of the transitional Somali government, Ali Mohamed Gedi, members of the Cabinet and the chairman of the national reconciliation conference, Ali Mahdi Mohamed.

There has been speculation that the reconciliation conference planned for June 14 will not take place given the current insecurity in the Somali capital, where Prime Minister Gedi survived a fourth assassination attempt Sunday.

But the U.N. official said he is confident that the conference will take place on Thursday.

"I think it definitely will take place and they are working very hard to do it on the 14th," he said. "They are, as you know, trying to assemble their gathering of the delegates and others on the 13th, the day before. I saw no sense whatsoever that there were going to try to delay it or that there was some difficulty in having it."

Pascoe is optimistic about Somali's coming together to resolve their differences.

"Let's really be honest about this situation. You have a society that is in as difficult a shape as the Somali one is. What they are doing I think it's quite remarkable that they are going to get people together to start rebuilding the social structure of the country," he explained. "I think that it's very important that we should look at this as a step in moving the country forward and I think a very valuable one."

Pascoe will also visit Ethiopia and Eritrea for talks with their respective leaders, as well as representatives from the Arab League and the African Union.

He will brief the Security Council upon his return to New York.

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