‘US working with world community to check Somali pirates’

November 21st, 2008 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The US says it is working with other governments to tackle piracy by Somali pirate vessels on high seas, describing it as a “serious issue” that Washington cannot solve alone.”It’s something that the international community truly has to grapple with. And we’re trying to via the UN Security Council as well as other mechanisms,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.

Taking note of the sinking of a suspected Somali pirate vessel in the Gulf of Aden by an Indian navy warship, he said: “When ships encounter, you know, piracy and the pirates are firing on those ships, then they’re free to fire, as we saw with the Indian government yesterday.”

INS Tabar sank the pirate “mother ship” after it did not stop for investigation and instead opened fire, an Indian navy statement said Wednesday.

“So we’re trying to, as a government, working with other governments, get a handle on this. It’s a serious issue. It’s not going to be something the United States solves alone,” McCormack said.

On the diplomatic front, the US was working for the renewal of a Security Council resolution, which was passed specifically to deal with Somali piracy, he said.

Later, the US circulated a draft resolution in the Security Council calling upon countries having naval capacities to deploy their naval vessels and military aircraft to fight actively against piracy off the coast of Somalia,

“Once you start digging into this issue, it’s very complex and it’s a very complicated issue in terms of finding the right solutions,” McCormack said, noting the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had formed a group led by Eliot Cohen, counsellor to the department, “to try to take a look at what might be done”.

The official noted that the US was also participating in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) task force that is escorting humanitarian shipments into Somalia.

“You’re still dealing with a million square miles of ocean to cover, and it’ s still a very difficult problem,” he added.

The US, McCormack said, was also supportive of having a peacekeeping force in the area though he was not aware of a proposal for having it under UN auspices.

But “the chaos in Somalia certainly has an effect on what’s happening out in the Gulf of Aden. And we want to try to address both issues”, he said. “You could say that the piracy is a symptom of what’s going on in Somalia, so there are no easy answers to either of those.”

“One step in the right direction is getting some peacekeeping forces in there,” McCormack said, noting: “The Ethiopians are still there and they want to leave, so to try to help stabilise the situation in Somalia.”

This “over time will have some positive effect on what’s going on in the Gulf of Aden”, he said, adding: “So we’re working on a number of different fronts here.”

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