UAE welcomes Somali apology for seized cash, easing dispute

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The United Arab Emirates late Tuesday welcomed the prime minister of Somalia’s public apology for a Somali operation in 2018 that resulted in the seizure of Emirati aircraft and $9.6 million in cash, wrecking relations between the nations.

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The Emirati foreign ministry thanked Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble for his “initiative” to settle the dispute, which prompted the UAE to end a military training mission in Somalia that had helped the conflict-ravaged nation rebuild after decades of chaos.

Somalia’s apology “reflects the depth of the historical relations” between the nations and “appreciation for the UAE’s purposeful role in supporting the Somali people and their government,” the Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency said.

In a dramatic incident in April 2018, Somali agents boarded an Emirati airplane at the Mogadishu airport, held Emirati soldiers at gunpoint and made off with bags of cash that the country’s security services claimed were undeclared US dollars. The UAE said the funds had been flown in to pay salaries of Somali soldiers and provide other aid.

Last month as the UAE dispatched planeloads of humanitarian aid to drought-stricken Somalia, Roble offered a formal apology to the Emirati government for the confiscation of the $9.6 million. He promised Somalia would return the seized funds “as soon as possible.”

“A new dawn of normalizing relations,” Roble tweeted at the time. “After a period of cold relations, Somalia & UAE are now on a progressive path to solve their differences & resume the brotherly ties.”

Even as Prime Minister Roble pledged to hand over the money to the Emirates earlier this year, President Mohamed ordered the central bank against releasing the $9.6 million “due to its illegal entry into our nation,” his spokesman said in a statement last month. A wider political dispute between the leaders has threatened to further destabilize the troubled African nation.

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