Anti-piracy operation off Somalia open to third countries: EU

November 24th, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Nov 24 (IANS) Refusing to comment on reports of Indian Navy sinking a pirate ship during a fierce battle in the Gulf of Aden last week, the European Union (EU) said Monday that non-EU countries could join its mission against piracy off the coast of Somalia. “We have no opinion on what India did. What we can say is that our operation which is going to be launched on Dec 8 is open to the participation of third countries,” Cristina Gallach, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, told reporters in Brussels Monday.

“We are aware of third countries which are interested, which are informally contacting us and it is good to have a positive echo from countries that would like to join the operation,” she said, the EuAsiaNews reported.

Earlier, Solana himself told reporters that the EU naval mission “will have rules of engagement that will be robust, with all means to protect, to deter and it will include the use of force”.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Solana, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer turned down the idea of imposing a blockade on some ports in Somalia to stop piracy.

“It’s not contemplated blocking ports, it’s not contemplated by NATO. You know there is a Security Council resolution and it does not include this kind of actions and as far as NATO is concerned at the moment this is not the case,” he stressed.

Scheffer was commenting on proposals by tanker owners calling for naval blockade off the coast of Somalia to stop pirate attacks .

The 26-member Alliance has sent three naval ships off Somalia to deter pirates from attacking ships.

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