NAIROBI, Kenya — The latest diplomat to clamber in through Somalia's much-touted "window of opportunity" is Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Today he spent a few hours in Mogadishu glad-handing the president, announcing a new ambassador (who will stay in Nairobi) and praising the improved security (while travelling in an armored car and wearing a flak jacket).
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The US has been noticeable in its diplomatic absence from Somalia, but recent months have seen a slow trickle of high profile visitors to Mogadishu, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, another British minister, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who showed up with his wife and kids in tow last summer.
But Britain is not just seeking to get on the Somalia bandwagon; it wants to be the band leader.
On Feb. 23, Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting an international conference on Somalia in London to address piracy, terrorism and "the root causes" of Somalia's long-standing conflict. That's a pretty tall order for what will be a five-hour meeting with representatives of 40 countries. Of course, no solution will be found in a day, but it's a start, or rather it's a re-start.
Britain, like the US and others, is worried by the way Somalia's chaos has morphed into piracy that threatens global trade, terrorism that threatens regional security and famine that threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The international community realizes that containment of Somalia is no longer an option. A solution must be found now.
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