HARGEISA (SD) – President Muse Bihi Abdi today welcomed to Somaliland General Stephen Townsend, Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AFRICOM), for consultations on advancing bilateral security interests in East Africa, according to a presidential statement.
AFRICOM Commander General Townsend was accompanied on his visit by US Ambassador to Somalia Larry André and other US officials.
The President received the delegation at Hargeisa airport and thanked them for their visit to Somaliland adding that they welcome the security and military cooperation between Somaliland and the United States.
“General Stephen Townsend’s visit is an important step towards laying the foundation for cooperation between Somaliland and the United States, and reflects a new chapter in our relationship.” said Bihi in a statement
Adding “”A stronger, larger partnership between Somaliland and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AFRICOM) could enhance maritime security and support, and help boost trade and economic growth in East Africa.”
General Stephen Townsend and Ambassador Larry André today visited Berbera Port and Berbera International Airport, both considered strategic and a potentially interested by the American military.
The commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AFRICOM) said the trip was part of a partnership with Somalia, calling it a routine.
“The leaders discussed expanded and enriched partnership with Somaliland, as with Federal Member States, consistent with the U.S. “single Somalia” policy and in line with Somalia’s constitution.” AFRICOM statement said
Adding “That assessment and this visit are a part of routine efforts to assess potential operating locations to be able to prepare for contingencies, exercise readiness or adjust force posture as needed.”
The visit by the US delegation comes at a time when Somaliland is embroiled in a political dispute over the upcoming presidential election.
Opposition parties in Somaliland have accused President Bihi of sidelining the country’s electoral system and will not recognize him as president at the end of his term in November.
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