The European Union on Thursday welcomed a peace accord signed by warring factions in Somalia at the weekend, aimed at setting up a functioning government in the east African state after more than a decade of conflict.
"The European Union welcomes the declaration on the cessation of hostilities and on the structure and principles of the peace and reconciliation process for Somalia," the Danish presidency of the 15-nation EU said in a statement.
"That agreement represents a fundamental step that will ensure a wide consensual basis for the (peace) process," it added.
Twenty-two Somali groups, including armed factions and the Transitional National Government -- a relatively powerless entity set up in 2000 -- signed a framework agreement on Sunday that, crucially, outlined a cessation in hostilities.
"The EU is reassured by the announcement that the second phase of the process will start on November 1 with a view to deliberations by the parties on core issues of the process," the EU added in its statement.
"This will be a very crucial phase and the real commitment of all parties in the quest for solutions will be decisive."
The bloc also offered "to contribute further to the development of the country as and when tangible progress is made towards reconciliation, peace and security".
The EU, along with the United States, Britain, Germany and the Arab League, provided funding for the Somali reconciliation conference, which began in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret in mid-October.