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Turkey Mediates Talks Between Somalia and Ethiopia Over Somaliland Port Deal

NAIROBI — Turkey has initiated mediation talks between Somalia and Ethiopia over a
contentious port deal that Ethiopia signed with Somaliland earlier this year, Reuters mews
agency reported.

The negotiations mark the latest effort to repair diplomatic relations between the East
African neighbors.

The relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia soured in January when Ethiopia agreed to
lease 12 miles (20 kilometers) of coastline from Somaliland in exchange for recognizing its
independence.

Somalia’s government declared the agreement illegal and retaliated by expelling the
Ethiopian ambassador and threatening to remove thousands of Ethiopian troops stationed
in Somalia to assist in the fight against Islamist insurgents.

Officials from the Somali government, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, and Ethiopia’s Foreign
Ministry and intelligence services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for Somaliland, which has struggled to gain international recognition
despite governing itself and enjoying relative peace and stability since declaring
independence in 1991, said it was not involved in the talks.

The goal of the negotiation remains unclear, and expectations for a resolution are low,
according to two officials familiar with the matter.

“Despite rumors that Somalia has softened its stance on refusing to engage in dialogue
until Ethiopia withdraws the agreement, it seems unlikely,” one official said. “I don’t see a
way forward, and I don’t expect much will come from these talks.”

Turkey has become a close ally of the Somali government since President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan first visited Mogadishu in 2011, offering substantial development assistance and
training for Somali security forces.

In February, the two nations signed a defense pact under which Ankara will provide
maritime security support to help Somalia defend its territorial waters.

Turkey has also built schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in Somalia and provided scholarships for Somali
students to study in Turkey, securing a strategic foothold in Africa and along a critical global
shipping route.

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