Posted by: africanpressorganization | 26 June 2009

Somalia / US Department of state Daily Press Briefing

 


 

Somalia / US Department of state Daily Press Briefing

 

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ian Kelly

Department Spokesman

Taken questions

 

QUESTION: Can we go to Somalia? Is the United States providing weapons to the transitional government in Somalia? And if so, are those – what kind of weapons? Are they U.S. weapons and ammunition, or are they simply funded by the United States, bought elsewhere, and then sent there?

MR. KELLY: As you know, we remain deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in Mogadishu and attacks against the Transitional Federal Government. At the request of that government, the State Department has helped to provide weapons and ammunition on an urgent basis. This is to support the Transitional Federal Government’s efforts to repel the onslaught of extremist forces, which are intent on destroying the Djibouti peace process and spoiling efforts to bring peace and stability to Somalia through political reconciliation.

Any State Department – let me just finish.

QUESTION: Please. Sorry, I thought you had.

MR. KELLY: Any State Department assistance to the TFG underscores our longstanding policy of supporting the Djibouti peace process. This is also supported by the international community and follows on to our participation in International Contact Group meetings in Somalia.

QUESTION: As you know, the UN Security Council has had a longstanding ban on arms shipments to Somalia. But I believe in May, they, I think, passed a resolution that would allow for this, provided that such shipments were approved by the relevant UN committee. Did the United States seek and obtain the approval of the committee and, therefore, this does not in any way violate UN resolutions?

MR. KELLY: Well, Arshad, it’s my understanding that all this assistance is provided in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

QUESTION: And is there – can you – what – two things: One, what kind of weapons and arms are the – and ammunition is this? And second, is it U.S. weaponry and ammunition, or are you buying it elsewhere?

MR. KELLY: Arshad, I just don’t have that information, I’m afraid.

QUESTION: Could you take those? Would you mind?

MR. KELLY: If I can get the information, I’ll be happy to give it to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: And when this was transferred, please?

MR. KELLY: I understand we’re providing it on an urgent basis. In terms of the exact chronology of it, I’m not sure. But it is – we’re providing it on an urgent basis.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about another aspect of the military support for the Somalian Government, the training of Somali security forces? Has a decision been made by the U.S. Government to assist in some way in that training, either in country or in a third country?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. The short answer is I don’t know. But I would imagine if you ask my colleagues in the Pentagon, they may be able to give you a better answer.

QUESTION: But isn’t that – that’s part of a State Department program, as I understand it.

MR. KELLY: Through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, INL, you mean?

QUESTION: I’m not sure that’s —

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think INL would provide training to police forces, I think. But if you’re talking about – and I may be misspeaking here, but if you’re talking about training of military forces, I think that’ll be —

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, let’s say police then. That’s – what —

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, that – let me see if I can get you that information.

QUESTION: Okay. Also, do you know anything about a $10 million package of assistance? Is that what this is about, or is there some other figure?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think I’ll have to get you —

QUESTION: On that same vein, can you —

MR. KELLY: I think I’ll have to get you that information, David.

QUESTION: Can you give us a dollar figure for the arms and ammunition you’re providing —

MR. KELLY: We’ll see what we can do, Kirit.

QUESTION: Are you afraid that the – I mean, you referred to the onslaught by the insurgents. Are you afraid that the Transitional Federal Government is in danger of collapsing, of being overwhelmed by the —

MR. KELLY: Well, we are concerned. I mean, we think that this government, the Transitional Federal Government, represents Somalia’s best chance for peace, stability, and reconciliation. This is the best chance – this government is the best chance they have had in the last 18 years. And in addition to this threat to the government, this is causing real suffering. This kind of violence is causing real suffering for the Somali people, and it’s just prolonging the chaos and preventing the country from getting on stable footing. So yes, we are concerned.

QUESTION: Ian, is the decision, which I understand was a byproduct of the review of Somali policy, which is ongoing, is that – first of all, is that correct?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think in a broader context, that that’s fair to say. But this was in response to a request by the Somali Government.

QUESTION: Is the decision broader than that? Does it include other contemplated or decided forms of support beyond political support of the —

MR. KELLY: I think what we’re focused on now is these urgent needs to help the government there deal with this – these attacks. If I can get you more information about a broader package, I can ask my colleagues in the African Bureau to get it for you.

QUESTION: Is that – yeah, I had the impression that it wasn’t just a single element of the –There are other things that —

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Let me just see if I can get you more information. We’re – I mean, we’re very focused on this Djibouti peace process, helping this Transitional Federal Government deal with this immediate threat. But in a broader sense, of course, we’re looking to help them establish more stability

QUESTION: Is the Government of Djibouti going to play a role in any other form of military assistance like training, since there is a training base there? There’s a base, as you know. Is that going to be part of the —

MR. KELLY: Well, again, that’s probably something that my colleagues in the Pentagon would know more about.

Any other on this?

QUESTION: On this one, the U.S. Government and others have repeatedly accused Eritrea of arming and training the al-Shabaab and other insurgents in Somalia. I believe Assistant Secretary Carson has made public his desire to visit Eritrea, and there have been some issues over whether he would be granted a visa and so on. To your knowledge, has there been any break in the logjam there? And do you have any expectation that he may soon go to Eritrea, in part, to address this issue?

MR. KELLY: Well, on the specifics of Secretary Carson’s travel, I’ll have to look into that. I’m not aware of his specific plans to visit Eritrea. What I can say is that we are very concerned about the role of Eritrea. We think they are providing material support, including financing, to some of these extremist groups, most particularly al-Shabaab. We’ve taken these concerns up with the Government of Eritrea. I want to emphasize that we remain open to trying to improve relations with Eritrea, but that this country’s support, Eritrea’s support for al-Shabaab and other extremist groups is a serious obstacle to any improvement that we can make.

 

SOURCE 

US Department of State


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