December 24, 2011 ·41 Comments
Photograph: Somaliland FM Dr Mohamed Abdullahi Omar meets with Egyptian officials in Cairo
HARGEISA — Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrived in the Egyptian capital on Saturday and held immediate talks with officials on various regional affairs, it was officially reported.
Press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Dr Omar accompanied by Mr Hersi Ali Hassan, Ministers for Presidential Palace, embarked on his first diplomatic mission to the North African country.
The statement added the minister received an official invitation from Egypt for talks. The dialogue is aimed at establishing diplomatic relations and developing bilateral cooperation in all areas for the first time, it said.
Upon arrival, the two ministers were greeted and welcomed to the Arab state by Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs Mrs Mona Omar and Special Representative to Somalia and Somaliland Mr Ayman Magdy.
Dr Omar is expected to hold a series of bilateral talks with senior Egyptian officials. Somaliland said that the new Egyptian authorities had expressed a willingness to open a new page in bilateral relations with Hargeisa.
Ties between the two African states have always been sour but Somaliland has reacted positively to the new initiative. It expressed optimism and expects things to normalize between Cairo and Hargeisa following the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. For years Hargeisa accused Egypt of blocking its bid to gain full recognition. It argued Egypt had used its strong position within the AU and the Arab League, also a strong ally of U.S. and Israel, to block Somaliland recognition.
Egypt’s government has always maintained it recognizes the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, which controls only few blocks, as the sole authority in Somalia. After a devastating conflict with Mogadishu that left hundreds of thousands dead, Somaliland ended its voluntary union with Somalia in 1991. The Hosni Mubarak regime refused to respect the decision of the people of Somaliland. Somaliland voluntarily unified with its southern neighbor July 1960, a union that was never rectified.
After the toppling of long-time dictator Mubarak, Egypt said it was open to all countries and was seeking new relations. This visit to Cairo by Dr Omar is the first its kind by a Somaliland official since declaring the restoration of its sovereignty in 1991. It remains to be seen if the diplomatic trip will bear any fruits in the near future.