Clinton in overture to Aideed

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - Only two days after ordering fresh troops to Somalia, President Clinton has opened the door to peace negotiations with General Mohamed Farah Aideed, writes David Usborne.

US officials confirmed yesterday that the special envoy, Robert Oakley, has gone to the region to 'engage Aideed in an effort to make peace'.

Last night General Aideed, speaking on his clandestine radio station, said his Somali National Alliance was proposing 'a total ceasefire, not to attack the US and UN forces' and wanted them to stop attacks in return.

Mr Clinton said reports that Mr Oakley was carrying an offer of a ceasefire with him to Mogadishu were 'just not true'. Recent UN policy has concentrated on capturing General Aideed.

A newspaper reporter who interviewed the captured US helicopter pilot, Michael Durant, said yesterday that the airman was getting daily medical care for bullet wounds. Mr Durant said he was 'chained up in a room' on the first night of captivity, and he came close to death the next morning when an unseen gunman fired through the door.

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