High-Level US Envoy Visits Somalia

Posted June 10th, 2012 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The Somali government says the top U.S. envoy to Africa has met with leaders in Mogadishu, marking the highest-profile visit by a U.S. official since the early 1990s.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met on Sunday with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

President Ahmed said the high-level visit shows that Somalia's security situation is improving and its ties with the U.S. are strengthening.

The one-day visit comes just four days after the U.S. offered $33 million for information on the whereabouts of seven al-Shabab militant group leaders.

The State Department says the group is responsible for the killing of thousands of Somali civilians, Somali peace activists, international aid workers, journalists and African Union peacekeepers.

It says al-Shabab's activities pose a threat to the stability of East Africa and to the national security interests of the United States.

Al-Shabab once controlled much of Somalia and nearly all of the capital, Mogadishu. But it has lost most of its territory during an 18-month offensive involving African Union forces, the Somali government, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The U.S. is offering up to $7 million for al-Shabab's operational leader Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed. Separate rewards of up to $5 million each were offered for four of his top associates — Ibrahim Haji Jama, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud, and Mukhtar Robow.

Rewards of up to $3 million was also offered for two other top members of the group, Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi and Abdullahi Yare.