Kerry’s historic visit to Somalia

Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. (© AP Images)

For the first time in history, a sitting U.S. secretary of state has visited Somalia.

“My brief visit confirms what diplomats have been telling me: The people here are both resilient and determined to reclaim their future from the terrorists and the militias who’ve been attempting to steal it,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on May 5 while visiting Mogadishu.

“I’m here today because Somalia is making progress in its mission to turn things around,” Kerry said.

Kerry acknowledged the work of the United Nations and African nations — including Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and previously Sierra Leone — to help bring peace to Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Kerry meets representatives of Somali civil society in Mogadishu. (State Dept.)

“It is really a great statement about the leadership of African nations stepping up to deal with African problems,” Kerry said.

Somali government forces have driven Al-Shabaab terrorists from major population centers, Kerry said, and international efforts have practically eliminated pirates who once plagued shipping lanes.

In recognition of the progress in Somalia, Kerry announced the United States will start the process of establishing a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu. The secretary said he looks forward to a fully united and secure Somalia that holds an honored place on the global stage for future generations.

“That is a job, in the end, that only Somalis can accomplish,” Kerry said. “But together with many other international partners, the United States is prepared to do what we can to help bring Somalia the peace and prosperity and security and the future that the people of Somalia want and that they deserve.”