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At Somalia conference in London, world leaders discuss failed state's future

World powers meet in London in an attempt to generate "new momentum" towards finding peace in Somalia, after more than two decades of anarchy.

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Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London on February 22, 2012. Ali said on February 22 the country was entering an era of peace and stability after two decades of unrest, on the eve of a major conference to discuss its future. (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A major conference on Somalia opened today in London, with world powers meeting to discuss the failed state's future.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped the discussions would generate "new momentum" towards finding peace in Somalia, after more than two decades of anarchy, the BBC reported. The conference is aimed at tackling security issues including the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militants, and piracy.

"These problems in Somalia don't just affect Somalia. They affect us all," Cameron said, according to Agence-France Presse.

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, in his opening speech, called for an end to the arms embargo, the BBC said.

Other leaders attending the conference include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda.

More from GlobalPost: Somalia News: African Union peacekeeping force gets troop boost

Cameron noted a "fatalism" with which the international community has approached Somalia.

AFP noted that "in a sign of low expectations, a follow-up summit is already scheduled for June in Istanbul."

According to Reuters, "Somalia is plagued by factional and clan feuding, much of the country is controlled by Islamist rebels and pirates are seizing ships in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden."

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council approved a resolution to boost the number of African Union (AU) troops in Somalia by 5,000 to more than 17,000.

Also on Wednesday, Ethiopian and Somali troops drove Shabaab rebels from the strategic town of Baidoa, in the southwest of Somalia. 

More from GlobalPost: Somalia's Al Shabaab losing ground in Africa

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120223/somalia-conference-london-world-leaders-summit