US Africa command chief Stephen Townsend met on Saturday Somalia’s new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and congratulated him him on his re-election in a vote held last week.
Accompanied by US ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre, Townsend discussed with Mohamud a number of issues including cooperation between Somali security forces and the US military on the fight against Al-Shabaab insurgents.
“On May 21 General Stephen Townsend congratulated … [Hassan Sheikh Mohamud] and the people of Somalia on the successful completion of Somalia’s elections,” Africom tweeted. “The two also discussed how AFRICOM can work with @SNAForce to achieve a more peaceful and security future that Somalia’s citizens deserve.”
Townsend met with the President of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi a week earlier in the first visit by a top US military official since the region broke away from Somalia in 1991. Talks with Bihi focused on cooperation on security and efforts to counter potential piracy activities and other crimes in Somaliland’s waters.
His trip to Mogadishu followed a decision by the US President Joe Biden to deploy about 500 American special forces back to Somalia to help Somali security forces and African Union peacekeepers combat Al-Qaeda-linked militants.