France to strengthen ties with China against Somalia piracy
The French and Chinese navies are discussing ways to strengthen intelligence exchange to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.17 June 2008
HONG KONG - The French navy and its Chinese counterpart are discussing ways to strengthen intelligence exchange to combat piracy off the coast of Africa, a senior French naval officer said on Monday.
"We will see if we can do something together, especially in the waters off Somalia, where many Chinese fishing boats travel to," Vice Admiral Gerard Valin, who is also commander of French joint forces in the Indian Ocean, told AFP.
Valin arrived in Hong Kong on Monday with 200 crew on board the Var - one of the four replenishment and command ships of the French navy which also provides logistics support to overseas warships and planes.
He will meet security chiefs from Hong Kong and mainland China during his stay, with the aim of furthering cooperation between the two sides.
The vessel, which made its maiden voyage to Hong Kong last year, will leave the south Chinese city on Friday for Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.
Valin said the need to strengthen international exchange of information at sea was a prominent theme in this year's Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual event held last month in Singapore, where defence ministers convened to discuss security issues for the Asia-Pacific region.
He added that while security around the Malacca Straits had significantly improved over the last decade, pirate attacks off the coasts of Africa remained rampant.
The waters off Somalia - which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity - are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world.
The UN Security Council earlier this month unanimously adopted a resolution authorising foreign warships to enter Somali waters with the transitional government's consent to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.
[AFP / Expatica]