By Mohammed Dhaysane and Andrew Wasike
MOGADISHU / NAIROBI (AA) - Somalia and Kenya leaders have met in New York for the first time since March and agreed to restore bilateral relations, Somali presidency said on Wednesday.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to work normalizing relations without any implication for the maritime disputes between the two countries, Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, Somali presidential palace communication director, said in a statement.
The two leaders met at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Egyptian President Abdelfatah Al-Sisi also attended the meeting.
"Somalia and Kenya have agreed to work towards normalizing relations without any implications for the maritime case at the ICJ [International Court of Justice] which will take its full course after Egyptian President H.E Abdelfatah Al Sisi convened a tripartite meeting on the margins of the UN General assembly," Ahmed said in a Twitter statement on Wednesday.
Somalia welcomes the opportunity to work towards normalizing relations with Kenya, as neighbors and partners, for a better common future, he added.
- Kenya-Somalia conflict
Kenya and Somalia have been on the verge of a diplomatic maritime row over a disputed 62,000-square-mile (100,000-square kilometer) oil and mineral-rich land in the Indian Ocean in the shape of a triangle that both nations claim.
Kenya claimed that the disputed area had been sold at an auction on Feb. 7 in London, and immediately recalled its ambassador and returned his Somali counterpart.
The boundary should lie parallel to the line of latitude thus marking the land Kenyan territory while Somalia disagrees saying their border extends southeast, according to Kenya's claims.
All diplomatic negotiations aimed at easing tensions over the disputed area have dragged on without success.
Kenya has been pushing for an out-of-court deal with the Horn of Africa country in regard to the case which is at the ICJ, noting that the rich resources in the area are not the primary reason why Kenya is fighting for the territory.
In Africa many conflicts have emerged over boundaries and borders. Ghana and Ivory Coast are also in a similar conflict over a section of the Atlantic Ocean, while Malawi and Tanzania also are facing a similar situation over a region with huge oil deposits in Lake Malawi. The four countries are waiting to see how the Kenya-Somali dispute is resolved.