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Kenya’s UN envoy Macharia Kamau Seeks US help on Somalia

000_Par3319824Kenya’s UN envoy on Tuesday courted Support from Washington for




His country’s campaign against Islamist Shebab rebels in southern somalia




We would love to see the international Community, with the US right up there,



Engaging in Somalia in ways in which They have not for quite a long time," Ambassador Macharia Kamau told AFP in an interview. Kenya deployed tanks and troops to the Shebab-controlled southern Somalia on October 14 to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked rebels Nairobi blames for kidnapping foreigners and making cross-border raids.

"We would like to see the US and the international community taking advantage of basically what Kenya is doing, which is putting troops on the ground, taking risks that need to be taken to achieve the goals that we all say need to be achieved, which is to bring peace and security to Somalia," he said.

The ambassador was due to meet with Democratic Senator Al Franken and Democratic Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a state with a vast Somali-American community that al-Shebab has tapped for recruits, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who has sounded the alarm over the al-Qaeda linked group.

The diplomat said Shebab was training "over 40 known American citizens" in Somalia, warning that there was "a direct line" from the group "right back to American cities" that "poses a clear and present danger for Americans."

"We should never forget that what’s going on in Somalia, while it might appear to be far away, out in the middle of nowhere, has tentacles that stretch back to the United States," he cautioned.

And he made a fresh appeal to the United States to consider imposing a blockade on the rebel-held Somali port of Kismayo to choke off the rebels’ supply line, a move Washington has been reluctant to support.

"Why this has not happened is actually a little bit beyond us because it does not require any troops on the ground, neither does it really put anyone at any risk," he said.

"It’s really a question of moving their naval assets into positions that would ensure that these people are not able to continue to resupply through Kismayo," which is a Shebab "nerve center," he added.

The envoy said Kenyan forces had cleared rebels out of towns and areas they once controlled and suggested that "maybe the international community might take advantage of that to send down peacekeeping troops to ensure that these towns and areas are not re-infiltrated by the armed groups and terrorist elements."

US officials say Kenya has been making what one senior senate source called "a full-court press" for Washington’s help on Somalia and against the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shebab, with top diplomats reaching out to key lawmakers for help.

The ambassador said he would also meet in Washington with non-governmental organizations in a bid to improve the flow of humanitarian aid into Somalia.

And he reminded US lawmakers wary of fresh commitments at a time of belt-tightening that "Kenya itself is not in the best of economic times."

"But we ourselves have recognized that all our collective long-term interests demand that we make the necessary sacrifices now, because if don’t, then the price that we shall pay, collectively, as an international community, whether Europe, Asia, or the United States, could be quite severe," he said.

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