The President of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, left Hargeisa on Saturday en route to Washington D.C., where he is due to give the keynote speech on Monday focusing on Somaliland independence at a virtual event hosted by the American conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation.

Bihi’s address is entitled: The Great Promise of Closer U.S.-Somaliland Ties.

The panel will include Kevin Roberts, the President of the Heritage Foundation and its Senior Policy Analyst for Africa and the Middle East, Joshua Meservey.

Meservey has written extensively about the need for the US to recognize Somaliland.

Muse Bihi will be joined in the US by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eise Keyd, along with other high-ranking cabinet ministers and business leaders.

While Bihi’s official travel schedule has not been released, his administration has been preparing for the US trip – his first since taking office in 2017 – for months. It has been working to secure meetings with high-level US officials. Sources say Bihi will reportedly meet with US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin to discuss the growing Chinese influence in the region.

Muse Bihi is not expected to meet with President Biden or Vice-President Kamala Harris.