US taps first envoy to Somalia in 20 years

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department says it is appointing a new ambassador to Somalia for the first time in more than 20 years.

Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman announced the new post Tuesday but did not say who would fill it.

Still, Sherman said the U.S. has no immediate plans to open an embassy in the Somali capital Mogadishu, which has been beset by violence spurred by the militant network al-Shabab.

About a dozen U.S. diplomats who work on Somali issues are currently posted in neighboring Kenya and travel to Mogadishu.

Western diplomats began increasing ties with Mogadishu after Somali civil activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president in September 2012. Washington formally recognized the new government four months later.

Great Britain opened an embassy in Mogadishu's fortified airport compound last year.

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