BOSSASO, Somalia - The regional president in Somalia's semiautonomous state of Puntland has denied growing speculation that Ethiopian soldiers might be deployed in the relatively stable territory.
President Mohamud "Adde" Muse spoke with reporters in the port city of Bossaso Sunday before he flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for talks with Ethiopian government officials.
He was accompanied by Security Minister Abdullahi Said Samatar, army commander Ali Badiye and intelligence chief Osman "Diana" Abdullahi.
The Puntland leader said his trip to Addis Ababa is linked to strengthening economic and security relations with Ethiopia.
President Muse dismissed reports that Ethiopian soldiers might be deployed in the region to protect the investments of foreign companies intending to explore for oil in Puntland.
A military delegation from Ethiopia was in the Puntland capital of Garowe earlier this month, where they held private meetings with oil company representatives and Puntland government officials. [ READ: Ethiopian factor surfaces in Puntland oil dispute]
Thousands of Ethiopian troops are deployed in central and southern Somalia, where they are frequently targeted in guerrilla attacks by Islamist rebels.