(Check against delivery)

Mr. President,

I seize this opportunity to extend to you on behalf of my government, my warm congratulation on your election as President of the 56th Session of the General Assembly. I am confident that with your profound experience and dedication you will successfully guide the proceedings of this session.

I also avail myself of this opportunity to thank your predecessor His Excellency Harri Holkeri for his excellent stewardship of the last Session of the General Assembly.

May I also extend our warmest congratulations to Secretary General His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan on his re-election for a second term and the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him and the United Nations.

Mr. President,

Last year, at the Millennium Summit, the President of Somalia, His Excellency Abdiqassim Salaad Hassan stood before this August Assembly after Somalia's absence from the international arena for about a decade. This was a moment of historic significance for my country, which continues to strive to emerge from the abyss of conflict and to re-assert its position as active member of the United Nations. I reiterate our deep gratitude to the international Community for welcoming us into its fold.

Mr. President,

In the last century, humanity witnessed great and laudable achievements, in the political, scientific, technological, economical fields. Yet despite these accomplishments, we continue to face challenges that need to be fully addressed. Conflicts are abundant, poverty is rampant, the economic divide between North and South continues to widen and the Scourge of HIV/AIDS remains unabated in the world. Nations across the globe are reeling from the attendant consequences and call for urgent and immediate action.

Mr. President,

The events of September 11 shocked the conscience of all decent human beings. We, in Somalia, relate to the pain and suffering of the people of the United States in a very profound and special way. The Somali people have been subjected to a reign of terror perpetrated by the warlords. We, in Somalia, know very well what it means to lose loved ones. Let me say that those who committed the heinous and atrocious crimes of Sep 11 have nothing in common with Islam or the Islamic faith. Islam preaches peace within ones spiritual self and neighbors, tolerance and compassion.

Allow me to reiterate our heartfelt and sincere condolences to the victim's families, people and government of the United States of America for their tragic loss. We continue to share their grief and pain.

Mr. President,

The inhuman terrorist attacks September of 11, 2001 brought to the forefront new challenges confronting peace and international security. Our fight against terrorism must be based on collective action by the international community and the principles enshrined in the charter of the United Nations. The immediate and strong response by the Security Council and General Assembly and the adoption of Resolution 1373 reflects our collective approach in the fight against terrorism. The Government of Somalia fully supports Resolution 1373 and is firmly committed to translate its provisions into action.

Mr. President,

Terrorists will exploit situations of injustices and imbalances as well as conflicts in fragile and unstable states. The international community is under moral obligations to come to the aid of these states in the form of post conflict peace building and national reconstruction so that they do not become vulnerable to the evil forces of terrorism. In this context, we welcome the statement made before this Assembly by H.E., President George W. Bush in which he expressed the readiness the U.S. Government to those countries who lack adequate resources to combat terrorism. A case in point is the situation in my country where there was a political vacuum and no government for a decade.

The present Somali government has been in office for about a year and few months. It is a government that inherited destroyed institutions and devastated infrastructure. There are two options before the international community in dealing with the situation in Somalia: to watch the country slide back into anarchy and chaos or to fully support the struggling Somali state by providing the necessary resources to enable it play a meaningful role in the fight against terrorism. The Somali government needs urgent and adequate assistance from the international community to be able to comply with Resolution 1373.

Mr. President,

Let me at this juncture address the persistent reports in the media and elsewhere alleging among other things, the existence of terrorist camps in Somalia. First, l should firmly state that the Somali Government hosts no terrorists nor offers bases or training camps for them. My government has not and will not offer them any sanctuary. We will arrest and hand over immediately any terrorist who comes to our shores. Second, we want to challenge the veracity of these reports. It is also important to evaluate objectively the integrity of the sources of this kind of information.

We are a transparent and open society and more than willing to cooperate fully with the United Nations and bilaterally in this regard. The Somali government is ready to invite the media and other interested parties to visit my country to verify the facts on the ground.

But we need to see the evidence and establish the facts in the first place. It is a fundamental principle of law and natural justice that every person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. This principle is also equally applicable to states.

In the view of my government's serious concern about these accusations, we propose the setting up of international committee of inquiry under the auspices of the UN Security Council to investigate these allegations. We also propose that this committee identify Somalia's needs in regard to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1373. We are fully prepared to cooperate with the proposed committee, if established, in the fulfillment of its mandate.

Mr. President,

As mentioned earlier, the Somali government has been in office approximately for a year and three months. During this time the government faced daunting challenges primarily in enhancing security in Mogadishu and others areas. We have succeeded in demobilizing 25,000 militia persons. We have established police stations and deployed 3000 police in the capital. A judiciary system has been put in place and courts are functioning properly and the government is collecting taxes for the first time.

Mr. President

The Somali government continues to search for a lasting peace in Somalia through dialogue with those outside the Arta process. This is in conformity with Transitional National Charter and resolutions adopted by regional and international organizations as well as the Presidential statements of the Security Council on Somalia.

In this regard, let me also refer to the numerous important initiatives that have been launched to promote national reconciliation in Somalia. We extend our profound thanks and appreciation to all those countries that have contributed to the search for peace in Somalia.

Let me, in this regard, pay a special tribute to President Ismail Omar Ghelle and government of Djibouti for their significant and positive contribution to the national reconciliation process in Somalia. I would also like to thank the United Nations, OALI, League of Arab States and IGAD for supporting the peace process.

Finally, I want to express, on behalf of my President, our profound thanks to H.E. Daniel Arap Moi for his tireless efforts in bringing about peace in Somalia. President Moi's latest initiative was the recent meeting held in Nairobi last month.

This meeting brought together the President of Somalia and some of the Opposition groups. A joint communiqué was signed stipulating the principles upon which future talks could be based. We expect broader based meeting to be held soon.

In conclusion Mr. President let me once again emphasize that Somalia is a struggling country working toward achieving peace. This country needs massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of its infrastructure and institutions.

We urgently need the assistance and goodwill of the international community. It is my sincere hope that the international community will respond positively and in a timely manner to our appeal for urgent and immediate assistance.

Thank you, Mr. President