Spain, France seek allies to fight Somali pirates
31 July 2008
MADRID – Spain and France are looking for allies to create a multinational naval force to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, defence ministers from both countries said Wednesday in Madrid.
"Our wish is that as many countries as possible" participate, Spanish minister Carme Chacon said following talks with her French counterpart Herve Morin.
The coastal 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.
More than 25 ships were seized by pirates in Somali coastal waters last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, a United Nations agency.
While the Spanish minister did not specify a date for deploying the force, she indicated it could start as early as October.
The French minister said his country was "favourable to the Spanish initiative within the framework of an exercise that is at a minimum European, if not international".
In April, pirates seized a Spanish tuna fishing boat carrying a crew of 26 off the Somali coast and a French luxury yacht with 30 on board in the Gulf of Aden. All were later released unharmed.
Spain and France subsequently brought international pressure to bear and the UN Security Council passed a resolution in June authorising member countries to send warships into Somali waters temporarily in pursuit of pirates.
[AFP / Expatica]