Norway rejects U.N. experts claims on Somalia assistance


(Reuters) – Norway has complained to the U.N. Security Council that accusations by U.N. experts that Oslo’s assistance to Somalia was a cover to promote the commercial interests of Norwegian oil companies were “completely unfounded and simply wrong.”

The U.N. Monitoring Group’s annual report to the Security Council’s sanctions committee on Somalia and Eritrea suggested Norway’s development assistance to Somalia could be used “as a cover for its commercial interests there.

In a letter to the Security Council, dated Monday, Charge d’Affaires of Norway’s U.N. mission Knut Langeland rejected those allegations.

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“Let me reassure you that these allegations are completely unfounded and simply wrong,” he wrote. “To imply that the Norwegian government’s assistance to Somalia may be ‘a cover for commercial interests’ is therefore totally unfounded.”

Somalia is struggling to rebuild after decades of conflict and a U.N.-backed African Union peacekeeping force is trying to drive out al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group al Shabaab. Piracy off the Somali coast is also a problem.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols)