African leaders discussed ways to contribute to a peacekeeping force in Somalia after gathering in Libya for a summit on the conflicts in Somalia and Sudan’s Darfur region.
"We discussed sending a peacekeeping force to Somalia," Sudanese envoy Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters, adding that the talks were aimed at unifying a position ahead of an African Union summit on January 29 in Addis Ababa.
"Somalia is working to contact countries that could participate and contribute financially to these forces," Somali Foreign Minister Ismael Mohmoud Hurreh said, adding that some north African countries were expected to announce their decisions soon.
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgham said, "Libya may provide financial support to this force."
Libyan leader and summit host Moamer Kadhafi held talks on Wednesday with some of the leaders of the African states comprising the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the official JANA news agency said.
CEN-SAD, which held the summit in the town of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast east of Tripoli, was formed in 1998 to promote regional economic integration and has its headquarters in the Libyan capital.
The organisation groups states with a combined population of 350 million — about 43 percent of the total in the continent of Africa.
The summit came as the United States revealed it had carried out a second air strike this week against suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Somalia, where Ethiopian troops were sent in to help the weak Somali government counter a rising Islamist movement.
A fresh batch of UN personnel is also expected in Darfur in the next few days as part of a plan to assist an embattled contingent of African peacekeepers.
According to UN figures, at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced since the February 2003 rebel uprising in Darfur that was fiercely repressed by government troops and allied militias.