- - Sunday, June 10, 2012


MOGADISHU — The highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia’s capital in years landed in Mogadishu on Sunday in another sign of improving security in the Horn of Africa’s most chaotic nation.

Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, arrived at the seaside airport Sunday morning, said Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for the African Union military force in Somalia.

African Union troops pushed al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab fighters out of the capital in August, allowing markets and even the arts to flourish for the first time in years. The U.N.’s top official visited in December - the first visit by the U.N. secretary-general in nearly two decades.

The U.S. does not have an embassy in Somalia, though embassy officials from neighboring Kenya have visited Somalia in recent months and years. The last senior U.S. government official to visit Mogadishu appears to have been a visit by Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni in 1997.

Al-Shabab, which only two years ago controlled most of Mogadishu, now faces military pressure on three sides.


Socialists win first round in parliamentary elections

PARIS — Leftist candidates won strong support in the first round of parliamentary elections Sunday, according to polling agencies, in a vote that is crucial to President Francois Hollande’s Socialist agenda.

Mr. Hollande needs leftists to take control of the lower house of parliament - currently dominated by conservatives - to carry out his plans to redirect France’s economy, with repercussions around debt-laden Europe.

It remains uncertain who will end up in control of the National Assembly after the decisive second round of voting June 17.

Projections from four French polling agencies show diminished support for former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party compared to the last elections in 2007, and growing support for the left.


Government pulls warnings about foreigners

CAIRO — Egypt’s government has pulled public service announcements that warned against talking to foreigners who may be spies after criticism that the spots fueled xenophobia, a media official said Sunday.

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