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Somalia wants Sri Lanka help to combat piracy

With the need to prepare an international action plan to curb piracy on the high seas, Somalia has sought inputs from Sri Lanka on how it curbed the Sea Tiger menace, Minister Rajitha Senaratne said in Parliament yesterday. The minister read out the letter written by the Puntland State Government in Somalia to the Defence Minister. In the letter Counter Piracy Directorate's Director General Abdrrizak M. Ahamed said Somalia was hit by an increase in acts of piracy on its waters and beyond its economic zones despite the presence of a well-trained police service. He said a large number of international war ships patrol Somalia's waters, but this appears to be a temporary solution. As a result, Mr. Ahamed had proposed to set up a permanent mechanism to address this issue as early as possible. "It has been calculated that the total costs involved with the presence of the international naval force is around US$300 million annually with no guarantee that they can solve this problem within five to six years. According to sources at the UN, the total cost caused by Somali pirates is over US$3 billion annually. This is why, especially the countries with large interest in sea cargo transport are now desperately looking for sustainable and cheaper solutions," the letter said. Mr. Ahamed had said that Somalia had proposed to present a comprehensive plan acceptable not only to the international community but also to the people of Somalia and had decided to discuss the matter with the Sri Lanka government on confidential basis. Having read out the letter the minister said he had taken steps to secure the release of six Sri Lankan fishermen held by Somali pirates who had demanded a ransom for the fishermen's release. The minister said it would be impossible to secure their release by approaching the problem only through diplomatic channels. "I have taken all possible steps through diplomatic channels. We have informed the relevant authorities," he said.

Date:February 12, 2012                                                           Source: Daily Mirror

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