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Kenya, Somalia Take First Step To Restore Bilateral Relations Ahead Of ICJ Hearing

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed have agreed to restore bilateral relations, following months of tension over a maritime border dispute, reported Africa News.

During a meeting convened by Egyptian President Al-Sisi who is the current African Union chairman, Uhuru and Mohamed agreed to restore relations between the countries and take diplomatic steps to build confidence between the two governments.

Kenya’s relation with Somalia has gone cold over a maritime and territorial dispute that is currently before the International Court of Justice, ICJ, in The Hague. The two countries have been at loggerheads over a disputed 62,000-square-mile (100,000-square kilometer) oil and mineral-rich land in the Indian Ocean in the shape of a triangle that both nations claim. In February this year, Somalia accused Kenya of auctioning oil and gas fields in the disputed maritime area.

The two leaders met at the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday night. As per reports, Mr. Sisi arranged the meeting after Kenya requested out-of-court negotiations through the continental bloc over the maritime boundary dispute. While Kenya has always maintained that it is seeking an out of court settlement over the matter, Somalia has insisted it wants the case to proceed to a full hearing.

“Somalia and Kenya have agreed to work towards normalizing relations without any implications for the maritime case at the ICJ [International Court of Justice] which will take its full course after Egyptian President H.E Abdelfatah Al Sisi convened a tripartite meeting on the margins of the UN General assembly,” Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, Somali presidential palace communication director, said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.

He added that Somalia welcomes the opportunity to work towards normalizing relations with Kenya, as neighbors and partners, for a better common future.

The development comes as The Hague based ICJ court is set to enter full hearing of the case between November 4 and 8.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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