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Guelleh Meets with Puntland President, discuss Enhanced Partnership

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

DJIBOUTI - The president of the federal state of Puntland Said Abdullahi Deni held bilateral talks with President Ismael Omar Guelleh on Djibouti on Wednesday, a day after arriving at the Horn of Africa nation, just days after the latter brokered negotiations between Somaliland and Somalia.

On Tuesday, Deni arrived in the company of a delegation from Puntland and was received by top government officials at the seaport city of Djibouti, with authorities rolling a red carpet for his as a sign of honor and respect to the visiting leader.

In a statement issued by Puntland presidency on Wednesday, both Deni and Guelleh discussed trade between Garowe and Djibouti during a meeting which was held at the presidential palace, an indication that Djibouti is always ready to work closely with various federal states of Somalia.

Some of the critical areas of cooperation they discussed include partnership in trade, investment, and development according to the statement. It's not clear how long the meeting took but the two leaders were pictured with respective delegations in a boardroom where discussions were being held.

"President Ismail Oguelleh receives Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni at the presidential palace on Wednesday. They have discussed ways to strengthen partnership in trade, investment, and development," read the statement from Puntland presidency.

Among the top leaders who attended the bilateral talks between the two leaders include powerful Djiboutian Foreign Affairs minister Mohamoud Ali Youssouf and his Transport counterpart Muse Mohamed Ahmed, who are critical in decision making within the Horn of Africa nation.

Djibouti brokered a meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi but the outcome of the meeting is yet to be made public. Somaliland has been pushing for international recognition but it's yet to reach a deal with Somalia, something which has delayed the quest.

But during the meeting in Djibouti, Deni was quick to denounce the meeting, arguing that Puntland was not invited to the table due to its long-standing dispute with Somaliland over the ownership of Sanaag and Sool regions, adding that "we shall not recognize the outcome of the talks".

However, it is not clear if Deni and Ismael Omar Guelleh discussed the ongoing reconciliation meeting between Somalia's FGS and Somaliland, whose deliberations are likely to be made public this month. President Guelleh organized the meeting following pressure from the United States of America and the EU.

Puntland had clashed with Somaliland earlier this year with Deni also threatening military intervention should Hargeisa continue stationing military officers along the disputed border. Deni has been consistently pushing for peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.

While Somalia constitutes of five federal states, each has some autonomy to pursue economic interests for the sake of growth and stability. This informs Deni's trips to other countries where he's pushing for investment in Puntland, an Oil-rich Federal State that was created in 1998.

There were reports that the Puntland president is also planning to visit the United Arab Emirates in the coming weeks for a dialogue meeting with DP-World, the giant freight company which had agreed to construct a port in the port city of Bosaso.


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