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Somali Leaders Continue Peace Negotiations

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

With U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali gone, warlords and other Somali political figures continued their negotiations Wednesday in a quest for the first steps toward peace in Somalia.

U.N. officials, monitoring the talks, said the Somalis might come up with a date, site and agenda for a national conference of reconciliation. But officials said they have seen little progress on more significant issues. “There is a lot of motion but no action,” one said.

The Somalis now plan to keep talking until Friday or even Saturday. U.N. officials are taking the view that this willingness to talk is more important than the lack of agreement; as the officials noted, Somali history is replete with agreements signed, then broken.

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There is a cynical feeling among outsiders here that the Somalis, weary of their famine- and war-ravaged country, will remain in Addis Ababa as long as anyone will pay for their stay. The United Nations agreed to pay for the extended meetings for one day; there were reports that the Ethiopian government would pay for another day or two.

Even if a date and site are accepted by the Somalis, the convening of a national conference of reconciliation, a U.N. official said, could falter in the future on two more important issues:

* The major Somali political movements are now divided into factions headed by rivals who ally themselves with faction leaders of other political movements. The result is a chaotic political scene that must be made more rational before any reconciliation conference.

* The Somali politicians have not agreed on the role of traditional clan elders in the reconciliation conference. None were invited to this meeting because the warlords did not want them. But many analysts believe they are the key to the future of Somalia.

Boutros-Ghali, who opened the talks Monday, received a warm welcome in Asmara on Wednesday when he stopped in the capital of the secessionist province of Eritrea en route to Cairo.

It was a welcome change for him after angry protests in Sarajevo, Mogadishu and Addis Ababa.

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