U.N. Security Council fails again to agree on statement calling for ceasefire in Somalia

The Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. Security Council failed for a second day to agree on a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire in Somalia because Qatar insisted that it demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces.
The 14 other council members on Wednesday refused to demand the immediate pullout of Ethiopian and other troops, diplomats said.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff called it "lamentable" that the council could could not agree.
"We were very close, but one delegation was insisting on an element that the rest of the council was not prepared to agree with — how you dealt with foreign forces," he said.
The vast majority of council members said an urgent resumption of talks between the parties and a political agreement were essential to achieve stability in Somalia before foreign forces withdraw.

"We would have been happy to have a presidential statement, but it had to be the right presidential statement that talked about creating the conditions for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and talked about a cessation of hostilities," Britain's deputy U.N. ambassador Karen Pierce. "And unfortunately it wasn't possible despite a majority of council members wanting it it wasn't possible to get that statement."
The council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the conflict in Somalia but ran into the same problem — with Qatar alone in demanding that foreign forces leave.
The top U.N. envoy in Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, urged the council on Tuesday to call for an immediate ceasefire between Ethiopian forces backing Somalia's weak government and the powerful Islamic militia that controls most of the country, saying talks are the only way to solve the conflict.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday he has appealed to the parties to return to the negotiating table "and try and resolve their differences through dialogue and seek reconciliation."
"And I would also appeal to neighboring countries to stay out of the crisis in Somalia and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia," he said.
Annan said he had already spoken to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi about withdrawing his troops, "and it is essential that neighboring governments stay out of this." He said Zenawi indicated "it is a limited operation and they will be out very shortly."

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