Somalia denies meeting between Farmajo and US envoy over maritime dispute
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The sea row between Kenya and Somalia is now taking an interesting twist with the United States of America keen to strike a deal between the two nations for security concerns, Garowe Online reports.
International Court of Justice postponed the maritime case between the two nations to June 2020, vowing never to delay it any longer after putting it on hold twice.
US envoy to Kenya Kyle McCarter told Kenya's Daily Nation on Tuesday that Washington DC is keen to have President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo dropping the case from ICJ in favor of dialogue.
According to McCarter, he recently held a meeting in Mogadishu with President Farmajo where he reportedly persuaded him to focus on the war against Al-Shabaab by cooperating with Kenya and drop the maritime dispute for dialogue.
"I’ve been to Mogadishu to speak to the Somalia president. I told him to pull off the court case," said McCarter, adding that US is rooting for dialogue.
"I’ve told them [Farmajo and Kenyatta] that the biggest hurdle is defeating al-Shabaab and that is the only way we can tap the gains on the blue economy," he added.
But in a quick rejoinder on Tuesday, Somali ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Ahmed dismissed claims that McCarter held a meeting with Farmajo when he visited Mogadishu recently.
In a statement on his Facebook, the Somali envoy accused Kenyan media of publishing 'fake news' adding that such a meeting did not take place.
"We are telling the Somali people that there was no meeting between Somali President Farmajo and my US counterpart in Kenya. We ask the Kenyan media to verify before running news," he protested.
Kenya has been dragging the case in The Hague, with President Uhuru Kenyatta's request to have the case withdrawn by Somalia recently rejected by the African Union.
During the United Nations General Assembly in New York recently, Uhuru lobbied for dialogue with Somalia, a request which was flatly rejected by Farmajo.
The case has threatened to ground diplomatic relationship between the two countries, forcing Kenya at one point to recall her ambassador in Mogadishu before sending Somali envoy parking in March.
But despite resolving to normalize the relationship, tension has continued to build, with now the US keen to have the matter settled out of court.
Kyle replaced Robert Godec in Nairobi five months ago. He has outlined the fight against Al-Shabaab as one of President Donald Trump's mission in East Africa.
In a 20-minute audio a few weeks ago, Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Umar warned the US and Kenya against interfering with the Somali sea. The militant insisted that Al-Shabaab will not respect the court ruling even if the judgment goes either way.
The row escalated in March this year when it emerged that Somali had contracted foreign companies to extract oil from some of disputed Indian Ocean oil deposits.
Reporting by Abuga Makori; Editing by Omar Nor