, LONDON, Feb 23 – The international community has a “historic moment of opportunity” to help Somalia at a major conference in London on Thursday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
Hague also ruled out talk of western military action to tackle Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamist militants, against whom Somalia’s fragile transitional government is battling with regional help.
Somalia’s leadership will join representatives from 40 countries, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the leaders of Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya, along with international bodies at the meeting in London.
Hague hailed a UN Security Council decision on Wednesday to increase the African Union force in Somalia to 17,000, plus a series of other recent agreements on piracy and on the political situation.
“Taking that together and the humanitarian assistance we provide, we have got a moment of opportunity here to address the problems of Somalia,” he told BBC radio.
“It’s a historic moment of opportunity and that is why we are holding this conference in London.”
Asked about reports that European nations were considering airstrikes against the Shebab, Hague said “It’s not what this conference is about.
“The fact is this conference is about addressing the fate of a failed state without western military intervention.”