Somalia denies auctioning oil blocs in dispute areas with Kenya

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-18 17:06:54|Editor: Li Xia
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MOGADISHU, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Somali government said it has not auctioned any oil blocks in disputed maritime zones to external bidders as claimed by Kenya, in a move to diffuse a diplomatic spate between the two neighbors.

The foreign ministry said Mogadishu has no plans to do so until the maritime dispute is decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

"Somalia is not now offering, nor does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the Parties' maritime boundary is decided by the ICJ," the ministry said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.

The Somali government, in its measured response to Kenya, also urged Nairobi not to undertake unilateral activities in disputed area until the ICJ renders its judgment.

The statement comes after Kenya on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Somalia, accusing Mogadishu of auctioning oil blocs belonging to Nairobi.

Macharia Kamau, the Kenyan foreign affairs principal secretary, summoned Lucas Tumbo, Kenya's ambassador to Somalia, for "urgent consultations" in Nairobi, after oil and gas blocks in what were believed to be disputed territorial areas were auctioned in London on Feb. 7.

"This unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya will not go unanswered and is tantamount to an act of aggression against the people of Kenya and their resources," Kamau told journalists in Nairobi.

Kamau also described the move by Somalia to auction oil and gas blocks in disputed territory as "tragic and regretful."

He said action taken by Somalia to sell the oil blocs has severely undermined the existing cordial and brotherly relations, and compromised half a century's worth of dedication and cooperation between the two countries.

Kamau also instructed the Somali Ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Ahmed Nur to depart to Somalia for "consultation."

Somalia, however, said it regretted Kenya's decision to instruct her ambassador to depart Kenya without prior consultation.

"Somalia also wishes to reassure Kenya that when the ICJ does render its judgment, Somalia will fully respect and comply therewith," the ministry said.

The oil and gas blocks in the disputed area are estimated to be 100,000 square km.

The case before the ICJ was filed in August 2014 by Somalia after Mogadishu said it had exhausted all diplomatic negotiations. The case is still waiting for submissions by the two parties to the dispute.

The ministry said Somalia is committed to "continuing to work hard in close cooperation with its brothers and sisters in Kenya to address pressing issues confronting both nations and the region."