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Somalia's foreign minister visits Kenya ahead of Farmajo's trip


NAIROBI, Kenya - A top Villa Somalia official on Wednesday visited Nairobi, authorities said, a week after an unprecedented phone call between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

Ambassador Ahmed Isse Awad, who is the minister for foreign affairs and international cooperation, held talks with his Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo, officials confirmed.

This was the first round table meeting involving both sides after Gedo skirmishes which spilled over to Kenya a fortnight ago. Somali National Army SNA] clashed with Jubaland forces, in a battle that KDF was also blamed.

However, Uhuru had dispatched a high-level delegation led by powerful Interior Minister Dr. Fred Matiang'i, who met Farmajo in Mogadishu for closed-door discussions.

"Somali Foreign Minister holds bilateral talks with his Kenyan counterpart in Nairobi," Somalia's Foreign Affairs department confirmed in a tweet, Wednesday.

The meeting, officials said, was a follow-up to the telephone conversation between Uhuru and Farmajo on March 5, where the two agreed to foster good cross-border relations.

The two ministers' meeting has focused on the bilateral relations between the two countries while affirming the continuous eagerness to reduce tension to enhance and develop aspects of joint cooperation in all fields, Somalia officials said.

"CS Amb. Raychelle Omamo today held bilateral talks with the Somalia Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Ahmed Isse Awad. The two Ministers met at the MFA HQs," Kenyan team also said in a tweet.

While no further details were availed, the meeting could pave way for President Farmajo's visit to Nairobi. Early this week, the Somali leader agreed to tour Nairobi following an invitation that was delivered by the Kenyan team in Villa Somalia.

In their agreement, Uhuru and Farmajo also accepted to constitute technical committees to address "bilateral relations", Villa Somalia revealed.

Somalia had accused Kenya of persistent "interference with our internal politics" and even threatened to "report" the alleged "destabilization" at UNSC. Amb. Dahir Osman insisted that "it's absolutely unacceptable" for Kenya to dictate Somalia.

But in a swift rebuttal, Uhuru accused SNA troops of "provocation" in Mandera, terming the spilling of the fight as "violation of territorial integrity". It's after the standoff the two leaders reached out to each other.

The FGS had deployed SNA troops in Gedo, leading to clashes at Balad-Hawo town. Jubaland accused Farmajo of "plotting to establish a parallel administration in Gedo" as a wider scheme to undermine him.

Although Farmajo has not been in good terms with Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe, the latter enjoys a good relationship with KDF, thus the complaints from Mogadishu administration.

There were claims that KDF was harboring Jubaland minister Abdirashid Janan, who is accused of "serious crimes" in the Gedo region, thus the crackdown by SNA in Balad-Hawo.

Both Kenya and the US asked FGS - Federal Government of Somalia to embrace dialogue with federal states, arguing that the stalemate could resuscitate Al-Shabaab militants, who had fairly been degraded.

Somalia is grappling with internal political feuds in the middle of Al-Shabaab threat, something which could hamper efforts to establish a functional state, analysts warn.