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Leaders Attending International Conference on Somalia Voice Support for Security Plan

Participants at Thursday's international conference on Somalia say they will support a plan aimed at enabling the country's fledgling and poorly-equipped army to defeat al-Shabab militants and take over national security from African Union troops.

Troops with the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), consisting of more than 20,000 soldiers from five East African countries, are due to start leaving the country next year.

In anticipation of the pullout, the Somali government recently reached agreement with the country's federal states to strengthen the national army, police and intelligence agencies.

"We want to see the integration of Somali regional forces and an increase in Somali capacity, as this will be crucial in allowing the resumption of offensives against the remaining al-Shabab strongholds in southern Somalia," said British Prime Minister Theresa May, addressing the conference in London.

As part of this pact we want to see more detailed plans for Somali security reform so that Somalia can take responsibility for its own security and enable the drawdown of AMISOM troops as conditions on the ground allow, May added.

At the conference, Somalia appealed to the United Nations to fully lift a longstanding weapons embargo so the national army can obtain heavy weapons.

"Time has come for Somalia to be able to get access to qualitatively better weapons than terrorists," Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed told the conference.

Source: Voice of America