President Hassan Sheikh leaves for Eritrea on official working visit

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has left for Eritrea for an official working visit to the country on the red sea coast. 

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will hold discussions with his counterpart Isaias Afwerki during the trip to Asmara. 

The pair shall focus on cooperation in the combat against al-Shabab militants and fostering bilateral relations according to Statement from Villa Somalia. 

During his last visit to the country in July, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has met with Somali troops training in Eritrea and promised they will soon return home to fight against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. 

Somalia sent thousands of soldiers to train in Eritrea, sparking a series of protests over the last year from parents who were unable to communicate with them. 

Somalia’s previous government had dismissed concerns from parents who were unable to reach their children in training and would not provide details.

A U.N. report in June last year said thousands of Somali troops had taken part in the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, prompting protests by parents who feared their sons were the ones sent to fight.

Somalia’s government denies any of the Somali troops that trained in Eritrea were involved in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict. Some media reports and critics dispute that account and allege some have been killed in Ethiopia.

While in Eritrea, President Mohamud is expected to conclude bilateral talks with his host. Somalia – which once accused Eritrea of supporting Islamist rebels – now has friendly relations. 

The two countries and Ethiopia have been drawing closer together since 2018 when Abiy Ahmed became the Prime Minister in Addis Ababa and extended an olive branch.

During his visit to Eritrea on Thursday, President Mohamud and Eritrean President Isais Afwerki are expected to agree to improve relations between their countries, including strengthening defense and security relations.

The leaders early this year formulated a seven-point memorandum of understanding agreeing to enhance defense and security cooperation to safeguard peace, stability and security.

They also agreed to strengthen diplomatic and political cooperation, to protect and advance their national interests, and to promote relations between their two peoples.

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