The Somali government has confirmed a meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the leader of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland Musa Bihi Abdi in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, earlier this week, reported Africa News.
Somali Presidential spokesman Abdinur Mohamed confirmed Tuesday’s meeting saying it was brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.
“It was behind closed doors and no communique is being released. It was an ice-breaking session,” the spokesman wrote on Twitter.
No other information about the secret meeting has yet been made public. The Somali leader joined his counterparts at the African Union summit last week. Musa Abdi arrived in Addis Ababa on February 9.
Ethiopia’s government is yet to officially comment on the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of an African Union gathering.
Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia back in 1991. But the territory, which is in northern Somalia, is not recognized by any foreign government or international body. Somalia insists that Somaliland is not independent and considers it as part of its territory.
Despite lacking international recognition, Somaliland has maintained its own independent government, currency, and security system. Several rounds of talks in the past over possible unification have failed to reach a breakthrough.
The last round of talks between the two sides in March 2015 in Turkey ended abruptly and any attempts to revive them failed. Later in 2018, Somaliland canceled its participation in similar talks following a fall-out Somalia over the Berbera port row.
Tuesday’s meeting is the first since Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi took office in 2017.
The meeting between the two presidents comes at a time when the international community has been pushing for the restart of talks between the two countries after initial talks initiated by Turkey collapsed.