US and AU senior commanders discuss security situation in Somalia ahead of withdrawal

Senior commanders from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and top US military officials convened on Friday to discuss the security situation in Somalia as the AU forces prepare to exit the country.

According to a statement released by ATMIS, the meeting was attended by the ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding, Deputy Force Commander in charge of Support and Logistics Maj. Gen. Peter Kimani Muteti, and other senior ATMIS military officers. The US delegation was led by Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, Commander of the US Army Special Operations Command, and Rear Admiral Jamie Sands, the US Navy Commander of Special Operations Command Africa.

The discussions, which were held behind closed-doors at the ATMIS force headquarters in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, focused on providing support to the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure security and stability as ATMIS forces gradually wind down and hand over security responsibilities.

“The US is one of our international partners. They have also injected a lot of resources into this mission, and we have discussed salient issues,” said Lt. Gen. Okiding after the meeting.

The withdrawal of the African Union forces from Somalia has sparked concerns about a potential security vacuum in the country. The discussions between the US and ATMIS commanders are seen as a crucial step towards ensuring a smooth transition of security responsibilities and preventing the resurgence of extremist groups like al-Shabaab.

The meeting also comes amid reports of increased attacks by al-Shabaab in recent weeks, including a deadly attack on a military base in Lower Shabelle that claimed the lives of at least 30 soldiers.

The outcome of the discussions has not been made public, but the meeting is a clear indication of the ongoing commitment of the international community to support the Federal Government of Somalia in its efforts to maintain peace and security in the country.

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