CHICAGO — A delegation of Somaliland Community leaders of Chicago including Samir Bare Awgab and Awale Warfa Nur met with the former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld this week in the Illinois city as he visited his birth state.

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The leaders briefed the former defense secretary in detail about the situation in Somaliland as the nation marks its 20th anniversary of Independence Day on Wednesday. Mr Rumfeld said he is well informed about Somaliland and has understanding of its political, democratic and security atmosphere.

The former Pentagon official said he knows Somaliland is stable state that is free of terrorism and the maritime piracy that has turned the coast off neighboring Somalia into one of the most dangerous waters in the world. He applaud the last democratic elections in the country and in the manner which the former President Dahir Riyale handed over the power. He sent a message of congratulations to the people of Somaliland and the Diasporas in the United States for their Independence Day.

Finally, Mr. Rumsfeld presented a copy of his “Known and Unknown” book in which he signed with the name of President Ahmed Silanyo to the Somaliland Community leaders. The two leaders promised to deliver Mr. Rumsfeld’s personal account book which refers to the events that followed 9/11 including the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq to President Silanyo.

Mr Awgab and Nur said the meeting with the former U.S. political heavy weight was a success and they plan to lobby Somaliland’s case with high profile U.S. leaders in the White House and the Congress.

Meanwhile the Somaliland representative to the United States has called on Washington to engage more with the Horn of African nation in key areas. Mr. Rashid Nur also requested the U.S. to extend Hargeisa a full diplomatic recognition. The U.S. says it will leave the issue of recognition with the African Union but it will support Somaliland financially and has decided to give direct assistance in recent times. Somaliland delegation met with US Agency for International Development (USAID) last week in Djibouti to discuss a number of programs the U.S. agency is funding in the country.

Somaliland is a former British protectorate that gained independence June 1960. It later unified with the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) forming what became known as the Somali Republic. However the union collapsed in 1991 following two decades of internationally-hidden civil war that left more than 50,000 Somalilanders killed. In May 1991, Somaliland declared the restoration of its sovereignty however it has not managed to regain international recognition.

1932 Born in Evanston, Illinois.

1954 Graduates from Princeton and marries Joyce H Pierson (with whom he has three children).

1954-57 Serves in US navy and then as a captain in the navy reserve until 1975.

1962 Becomes a member of Congress, representing Illinois.

1969 Resigns in his fourth term to serve President Nixon as director of US Office of Economic Opportunity.

1973 Leaves Washington for Brussels to be US ambassador to Nato.

1974 Called back to Congress to serve as transition chairman for President Ford.

1977-2001 Pursues business career. Roles include chairman of GD Searle & Co, the General Instrument Company and Gilead Sciences, a company instrumental in the development of Tamiflu.

1983-4 Serves as President Reagan’s special envoy in Middle East, during which time he has his famous meeting with Saddam Hussein.

1989-2001 Sits on the board of trustees for Gerald R Ford Foundation, National Park Foundation and Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship. He is also a member of the National Academy of Public Administration.

2001 Returns to office as defence secretary under George W Bush.

2006 Resigns following the “generals’ revolt”, when eight retired generals criticise his military strategy.

2007 Appointed distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and starts writing his memoir.

He says: “It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.”

They said: “He’s a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that.” Richard Nixon

Somalilandpress & The Guardian | 17 May, 2011