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Somali Warlords Hold Talks with Yemen President

Somali warlords held talks on Wednesday with Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh as part of a bid by the Arab state to help peace efforts in Somalia

. A Yemeni official told Reuters the militia leaders, Hussein Aideed and Osman Ali Atto, were due to meet Saleh again later on Wednesday. He would not give details on the talks.

He also said the two were due to hold talks with representatives of Somalia's newly-elected President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan in the Yemeni capital.

But he added the Somali president's envoys have not arrived in Sanaa yet. Yemen has said it was trying to help with the peace efforts in Somalia.

The arrival on Tuesday in Yemen of the two warlords followed a statement in Nairobi that the new president had opened talks with Aideed and Atto in a bid to smooth over differences and begin governing the fractured nation. Abdiqassim Salad was elected last weekend by Somalia's new parliament, which was set up in neighbouring Djibouti as part of a peace conference sponsored by Djibouti.

But Somalia's main warlords have said they would not back any new government coming from the Djibouti conference and warned that they would block it from taking office in Somalia.

A spokesman for Aideed had however said there was room for negotiation.

Aideed and Ali Atto both have their strongholds in south Mogadishu. Somalia has been without a central government since 1991, when former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted and the country dissolved into civil war and anarchy, with clan-based factions carving out rival fiefdoms.

The militia leaders say the new Somali parliament is not legitimate because it includes too many former officials of the Siad Barre regime.

Abdiqassim Salad served as deputy prime minister and interior minister under Siad Barre.


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