SOMALI CHIEFS OPEN TO TALKS; US MARINES HEAD FOR MOGADISHU
Djibo Ka, special envoy of Organization of African Unity (OAU) chairman and Senegal President Abdou Diouf, said yesterday Somalia's two main warlords had shown willingness to attend international talks to restore order to the famine-hit country.
About 1.5 million Somalis face starvation due to the effects of civil war and the country's collapse into anarchy. Mr. Ka's delegation was the highest ranking pan-African team to visit Somalia since the January 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
"I have talked to both [interim President Mohamed] Ali Mahdi and [Gen. Mohammed Farah] Aideed and they have shown a willingness to sit down and end the wrangling in their country, so that a semblance of peace can be created again," Ka said.
Laying down conditions for talks, General Aideed said he wants Mr. Ali Mahdi to give up his title of president and Ali Mahdi has insisted that his rival give up territory he seized in the war between their armies.
Meanwhile, the United States prepared yesterday to send four ships with 2,400 soldiers to Somalia to provide support for United Nations troops protecting donated food and other aid. The amphibious group will arrive off Mogadishu within a few days, said Navy spokesman Lt. Bruce Cole.