International Conference on Somalia opens in London

February 23, 2012

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal led the Kingdom’s delegation to the International Conference on Somalia in London today. The meeting was opened by British Prime Minister David Cameron and attended by representatives from fifty countries and organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.

In his opening address, Prime Minister Cameron called upon the world to support the African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia, noting that the country’s problems have effects far beyond its own borders. He cited maritime piracy and terrorist bases as examples of Somali issues that endanger other nations. The British Prime Minister advocated the revival of the Somali political process and appealed to the world community to assist the 750,000 people who have been threatened by drought and starvation.

During his own address, the Saudi Foreign Minister noted that the Kingdom was one of the first countries to try and bring about reconciliation in Somalia after the collapse of its government in 1991. He cited the Somali National Reconciliation Arrangement that was concluded in Jeddah in 2009 under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. Saudi Arabia continues to maintain contacts with groups it feels are interested in bringing an end to the crisis, Prince Saud added. Furthermore, he noted that Saudi Arabia has consistently donated money and humanitarian relief supplies to alleviate the suffering of the Somali people.

At the conclusion of the one-day meeting, a final communiqué was issued calling on the world community to remain committed to its obligations of achieving development and progress in Somalia. It underscored the importance of achieving political stability, confirming that Somalis will determine the future of their country. The document also encouraged dialogue between factions and denounced extremism, terrorism and piracy. Finally, the delegates agreed not to extend the mandate of the current transitional government in Mogadishu, which expires in August 2012, in order to pave the way for the formation of a full-fledged government.