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Somaliland, Ethiopia sign trade accord

HARGEISA (Reuters) -- The self-declared Somaliland Republic, which has yet to gain international recognition, has signed agreements with neighboring Ethiopia to boost trade and communications, officials announced in Hargeisa on Sunday.

The announcement followed the return on Saturday of Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal from a three-day official visit to Ethiopia.

Egal and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held discussions in Addis Ababa covering the general situation in the Horn of Africa as well as bilateral issues between their countries, the officials added.

Somaliland presidential spokesman Abdi Idiris said they had agreed on ways of improving relations as well as encouraging a better flow of trade between the two countries.

The core of the agreement, he said, was to enable greater use of the port of Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden, by improving the road link to the Ethiopian border.

Ethiopia is also to install a microwave communication link between Burao, Hargeisa and Berbera. And the Ethiopian and Somaliland central banks will facilitate trade by providing links to the outside world.

The agreement is seen in Hargeisa as a significant boost for Somaliland in its efforts to gain international recognition, nine years after declaring itself independent from the rest of Somalia.

Somaliland covers the area of the former British protectorate which joined the neighboring Italian territory to form the independent Republic of Somalia in 1960. It declared itself independent when Somalia dissolved into chaos after the ousting of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Somaliland says its declaration of independence is not affected by the naming of a new government for Somalia after a conference of Somali leaders held in the adjoining Djibouti republic.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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