Sunday, 15 November 2009

Somali president appeals for Saudi investment

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed urged Saudi Arabia Sunday to invest in his war-ravaged nation and appealed for help from the kingdom in his battle against hardline insurgents.

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (centre) urged Saudi Arabia Sunday to invest in his war-ravaged nation and appealed for help from the kingdom in his battle against hardline insurgents. Photo:Mohamed Dahir/AFP

Sharif arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Friday to attend the "Saudi-East African Forum", a four-day gathering that aims to bolster trade partnerships between Riyadh and seven countries in the region.
"Piracy and terrorism have obstructed all kinds of development in Somalia, but there are mechanisms put in place to tackle these issues," he told the participants, which included government officials and representatives of 50 Saudi companies.

"Somalia has never been short of resources. I urge all of you to consider taking advantage of Somalia's long coastline, as well as its livestock resources which amount to 55 million (heads)," he added.

Sharif also urged Saudi support for his administration, which has failed to assert its authority on the country and has been pinned back by insurgents into a few blocks in Mogadishu under the protection of the African Union.

Saudi Minister for Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Zainal Ali Reza, said trade between his country and east Africa reached three billion dollars in 2008, and announced his government's intention to scale up commercial ties.

Somalia has been gripped by civil wars and insurgencies and bereft of stable government since the overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The capital Mogadishu has been ravaged by violence that worsened in May when the insurgents stepped up an offensive against Sharif's internationally-backed government.

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