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Djibouti Conference

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U.N. Leader Calls for World Support to Djibouti on Somalia

A senior U.N. official Thursday called on the international community to assist Djibouti financially in its peace initiative for Somalia in a bid to restore peace in the war-torn African country.

Kieran Prendergast, U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, made the statement as he was briefing an open Security Council debate on the current political and security situation in Somalia.

"Djibouti has made commendable efforts to assist the people of Somalia to resolve their conflict by peaceful means," he said, adding that Djibouti has almost entirely financed the Somalia peace meeting, and this turned out to be "an intolerable burden."

Initiated by Bjibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, the warring Somali parties convened a peace meeting at Arta, 30 kilometers south of the capital Djibouti, to elect a parliament which would select an interim Somali president.

The meeting, the 13th of its kind initiated by the Djibouti president, started on May 2, and has attracted considerable support from the international community and Somalia's civil society.

However, it was bitterly opposed by the principal warlords in the Horn of Africa.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in the June 16 statement, said here that he was "encouraged" by news the Somalia National Peace Conference had moved into its second phase.

"We understand that, so far, the Conference has been almost entirely financed by Djibouti," he said.

"This is placing an intolerable burden on a small State," Prendergast said.

"It is time for the international community to consider seriously how to assist Djibouti in its peace initiative for Somalia, especially in material ways," he said.

"The Djibouti initiative, which has relied on Somalia's traditional system of clans in organizing the Conference, appears to be on the right track," he said.



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