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Originally published Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 6:26 AM

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South Africa opens Somalia diplomatic ties

South Africa says it is establishing its first diplomatic relations with Somalia in hopes it can assist in the war torn east African nation's search for peace and democracy.

The Associated Press

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JOHANNESBURG —

South Africa says it is establishing its first diplomatic relations with Somalia in hopes it can assist in the war torn east African nation's search for peace and democracy.

The South African foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane reached an agreement to exchange diplomats with her Somali counterpart in that country's transitional government. It said only peace negotiations between all Somali armed groups could restore constitutional law after more than two decades of civil war.

The statement said South Africa was ready to share experiences of its own history in ending apartheid-era rule and building a new constitution. Diplomats based in Kenya will act for South Africa until an embassy can be opened in Mogadishu.

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