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US re-establishes 'permanent diplomatic mission' in Somalia for the first time in 27 years

The US closed its Somalia embassy in January 1991 [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2018

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The United States has re-established a permanent diplomatic mission in Somalia for the first time since closing down its Mogadishu embassy in 1991.

The US has re-established a "permanent diplomatic presence" in Somalia for the first time in 27 years, the State Department said on Tuesday.

"This historic event reflects Somalia's progress in recent years and is another step forward in formalising US diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu."

The US closed its Somalia embassy in January 1991 as the country collapsed into civil war, with the military airlifting out the ambassador and others.

Washington formally recognised Somalia's new federal government in 2013 but has based its diplomatic mission in the capital of neighboring Kenya.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry during a surprise 2015 visit to Somalia said the US would begin the process of re-establishing a diplomatic presence.

New Ambassador Donald Yamamoto arrived at the US mission last month.

At present, US forces are partnering with the United Nations-backed African Union Mission in Somalia, which aims to counter the threat from al-Shabab militants.

Despite losing much territory in recent years, the al-Qaeda-linked extremists have continued to pose a real threat to Somalia's stability with deadly attacks.

The US also has carried out a number of drone strikes against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State group in northern Somalia.

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