The top diplomat of Somaliland is leading a delegation to self-ruled Taiwan where they met President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday.

“This historic visit marks an important milestone in the strong and cordial relationships between our two countries,” Essa Kayd, Somaliland’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, said at his meeting with Tsai.

“Somaliland and Taiwan share common values and principles of good political and democratic government, and vibrancy of our free market economies,” he added.

The Taiwanese president said on Twitter that she met the delegation from their “democratic partner in East Africa.”

Taiwan is “looking forward to building on our countries’ growing friendship so that we can contribute more to the global community,” Tsai added.

Kayd, whose delegation landed in Taiwan on Tuesday, said: “As a sovereign nation, Somaliland’s right to engage in peaceful and friendly foreign relations with all other nations is enshrined in international law.”

It was in July 2020 that Taiwan and Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland had announced they established official relations.

The two sides opened their representative offices in respective capitals in August and September in -2020, with Taiwan launching first.

The visit by the Somaliland delegation to Taipei, which China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, comes at a time when Beijing downgraded its relations with Lithuania after the Baltic nation allowed the self-ruled island nation to open its mission with the same name – Taiwan, instead of Taipei Mission.

Taipei has maintained that it has been independent since 1949.

China refuses diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes Taiwan, a move the US stops short of officially.

“All coercive or threatening measures to deny such collaboration between international partners not only represent affront to the principle, protocols and norms on which the international order is based, but do little to promote the peace and security that the region and the world require,” the Somaliland top diplomat said at the Taiwanese presidential palace.

Somaliland, a self-declared state in East Africa with a nearly 3.5 million population, is yet to be recognized as a country by the international community.

However, the tiny Horn of Africa region has its own flag, parliament and currency.

Somaliland, a former colony of the British Empire, became fully independent on June 26, 1960. Following the independence of Somalia from Italy in July the same year, the two unified with each other.

Since 1991, Somaliland has been seeking international recognition as an independent state.

Somalia “does not recognize Somaliland’s breakaway status, and therefore maintains it is still part of Somalia’s territorial integrity, and that the Federal Government bases in Mogadishu, therefore, has authority over Somaliland as well,” Omar Mahmood, Somalia analyst for the International Crisis Group, had told Anadolu Agency.

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