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UN to Reconsider Lifting Arms Ban on Somalia
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The United Nations Security Council would reconsider lifting the decade-old arms embargo against Somalia to facilitate the deployment of a regional peacekeeping force in the Horn of Africa country, a top UN envoy said in Nairobi Friday.

Francois Lonseny Fall, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Somalia, said the UN Security Council was still willing to approve the deployment of peacekeepers to Somalia despite an earlier rejection of a request by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), peace mediation body, for the lifting last year.

"The council is ready to lift the arms embargo once a request is received from the African Union. It would consider lifting the arms embargo," Fall said.

The 1991 UN arms embargo was slapped when Somalia slipped into anarchy following the violent ouster of military dictator Siad Barre.

Previous attempts to reconstitute a government in Somalia had failed 15 times until June last year.

The African Union said it is stepping up efforts to restore peace in Somalia with the opening of an office in Somalia last year.

The UN is also planning to train local army officers to establish a national army and police force.
Somalia has been torn by factional fighting since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime 15 years ago.

Clashes erupted last month in Mogadishu, the capital, and pirate attacks against aid ships have hampered UN efforts to provide emergency food at a time when severe drought has affected nearly 2 million people.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2006)

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