US welcomes first Somali ambassador in more than 20 years in step toward warming relations

  • Article by: LARA JAKES , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 14, 2014 - 4:30 PM

WASHINGTON — Somalia has posted an ambassador to the United States for the first time in more than 20 years.

The State Department announced Monday that Somali envoy Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke has arrived in Washington.

It's a step forward in a nearly two-year effort to improve relations between the U.S. and Somalia as the war-ravaged African nation struggles to regain stability against extremist attacks and a weak government.

The U.S. is planning to name an American ambassador for Somalia issues but is not expected to re-open its embassy in the capital Mogadishu any time soon.

The U.S. Embassy closed in 1991 when Somalia's government collapsed in civil war. American troops withdrew from Somalia in 1994, months after the humiliating "Black Hawk Down" debacle when Somali militiamen shot down two U.S. helicopters.

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