Somalia issues reconciliatory response to Kenya amid diplomatic row

Somalia’s federal government has denied Kenyan accusations that it auctioned off oil and gas exploration blocks in a disputed territory in the Indian Ocean.

In a measured statement on Sunday, Mogadishu said it was not offering and has no plans to offer any part of the dispute area to foreign companies.

It said it was reassuring Kenya that it would not undertake unilateral activities in the disputed area until the issue is resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“The government of Somalia wishes to reassure the government of Kenya that it stands by its commitment not to undertake any unilateral activities in the disputed zone until such a time as the ICJ renders its judgement,” the statement read in part.

It said it was willing to work with Kenya because people in the two nations share “strong cultural and historical ties that cannot be severed or affected by disagreements among them”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Somalia avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya the assurances of the highest consideration.”

The statement came hours after Kenya denied recalling its ambassador to Somalia and expelling the Somali envoy over the row.

Foreign ministry principal secretary Macharia Kamau said Nairobi had only “summoned”ambassador Lucas Tumbo for consultations.

“We summoned ours for consultations and asked that theirs departs for consultations on their side so that we can resolve this matter with credible and correct information from both sides,” Mr. Kamau tweeted.

Kenya on Saturday accused Somalia of auctioning oil and gas blocks within the Kenyan maritime territory.

The blocks are at the centre of a maritime territorial dispute in the Indian Ocean.

The International Court of Justice is considering a claim on their maritime boundaries brought by Somalia in 2014 after negotiations over the 100,00 km2 stretch of sea floor broke down.

On Sunday, Somalias’s envoy to Kenya Mohamoud Ahmed Nur returned to Mogadishu.

Reports in the Somali media said leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia held an emergency meeting late on Saturday to deliberate on the steps the government should take over the row.