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The United States recognizes Somali government

The United States has recognized Somalia’s government for the first time in two decades. The recognition launches a new era of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"Today is a milestone, it is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking after a meeting with the new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Washington on Thursday.

"For the first time since 1991, the United States is recognizing the government of Somalia," she said.

A new Somali administration took office last year, ending eight years of a transitional government. Somalia was without an effective central government beginning in 1991, after warlord's toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

In 1993, after a failed US intervention, Somali militants shot down two American Black Hawk helicopters and dragged US soldiers' bodies through the streets of the capital, Mogadishu. Eighteen Americans died, and 80 were wounded.

In recent months, African Union forces, government troops and Ethiopian soldiers, were able to subdue Islamist al-Shabab insurgents from several key towns.

The renewal of diplomatic ties will allow Somalia to receive more aid from the United States, as well as from international organizations.

Somalia will be the focus of a new international conference to be hosted in Britain in May.

hc/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)