US cautions Ethiopia on Somalia

PRETORIA (Reuters) - The United States has cautioned Ethiopia not to become embroiled in Somalia, although it could not confirm reports Ethiopian troops were already in the country, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
"We have told them not to get drawn into this provocation," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer told journalists by video-conference.
Witnesses said Ethiopian troops moved closer to Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Friday, putting pressure on Islamists who have risen to power in the Horn of Africa nation and challenging the authority of its Western-backed interim government.
Frazer said Washington believed "hardline elements" within the so-called Islamic courts group wanted to extend their territorial control and hoped that more moderate players within the Islamist camp would prevail.
"Why aren't the moderate elements speaking out versus this element that is trying to spark a conflict?" she said.
Frazer said the United States has heard reports international elements were entering Somalia, but did not give any details.
"There are obviously foreign terrorists in Somalia," Frazer said.
The Islamists took Mogadishu from U.S.-backed warlords in June, complicating efforts to re-establish centralised control over a chaotic country that has not had a central government since the 1991 ouster of a dictator.
Ethiopia has denied incursions into Somalia but threatened to crush any Islamist bid to take Baidoa -- the seat of the provisional government -- or cross the border.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at5:28 PM


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