President Barack Obama took the first step Monday toward providing US military assistance to Somali forces battling Islamist militants, after the easing of a UN arms embargo last month.
Obama signed a determination stating that having the legal capacity to offer defense equipment to Somalia was in the national interest of the United States and could promote peace and stability in East Africa.
The move allows the US Secretary of State to consider the provision of arms to Somalia but does not signal a decision to provide specific assistance, said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
“The United States is committed to being a long-term partner in assisting the defense forces in Somalia to become professional military forces,” Hayden said.
The UN Security Council last month suspended the arms embargo against Somalia for a year, easing the oldest international weapons blockade to help the government take on Islamist militants.