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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Mogadishu, 6 Sept. (AKI) - The leader of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controls the capital Mogadishu and much of the country's south may have have had a secret meeting with US and European diplomats during a recent visit to Kenya, a Somali newspaper has reported. Sheik Ahmad Sherif, may have held taks with the diplomats in Nairobi to discuss the current humanitarian crisis in Somalia, according to the Xog-Xogaal newspaper.

Washington, which has accused the UIC of sheltering al-Qaeda militants, backed a coalition of warlords whose fighters were driven from Mogadishu by the UIC earlier this year.

According to the report Sherif also met the Swedish and French ambassadors to Kenya before returning to Mogadishu two days ago.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, hundreds of people who belonged to Somalia's armed forces before the country descended into chaos in 1991 massed in the capital to denounce plans to send foreign peacekeepers to Somalia, the second such protest in as many days.

It was the latest demonstration organised by UIC whic opposes foreign interference, while the country's weak transitional government has appealed for outside help, and has relied on the presence of Ethiopian troops to secure its headquarters at Baidoa.

On Monday, negotiators from both sides met in Khartoum, Sudan, and signed an agreement to eventually form a unified national army.

The agreement did not specify when the plan would take effect, and talks are expected to resume October 30.

On Tuesday in Nairobi authorities from seven African countries endorsed a plan to send 3,500 Ugandan and Sudanese soldiers to Somalia by early October.
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