World leaders meet to discuss “worst failed state”

Leading nations, including India, on Thursday agreed that the international community must respond urgently to the crisis in Somalia, described by Prime Minister David Cameron as the “world's worst failed state”, blighted by two decades of civil war and famine and caught up in a vortex of terrorism, piracy and famine.

The call, coupled with the warning that a delay in helping Somalia would have catastrophic consequences, came at the end of a day-long international conference here attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, several heads of states, Foreign Ministers, and senior representatives of 50 countries.

India was represented by Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed who called for a “comprehensive strategy” to end conflict and instability in Somalia.

“We support all international efforts, led by the United Nations, for the creation of an environment in which the Somalis can take care of their own destiny, free from violence of all kinds,” he said.

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed wanted an end to the arms embargo.

“We're looking for security. We're scared of tomorrow,” he said while Uganda's Yoweri Museveni preferred African solutions to African problems.

‘Real opportunity'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said America would support anyone who renounced violence but ruled out talks with al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda outfit fighting the government. She said there was a “real opportunity” to turn things around in Somalia.

“For decades, the world has focused on what we could prevent from happening in Somalia — be it conflict, famine, or other disasters. Now we are focused on what we can build. The opportunity is real,” she said.

A spokesman of al-Shabaab dimissed the conference as “another attempt” to colonise Somalia.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Cameron warned that the world would pay a heavy price if it ignored the crisis in Somalia. “Young minds are being poisoned by radicalism, breeding terrorism that is threatening not just Somalia but the whole world. If the rest of us just sit back and look on, we will pay a price for doing so.”

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