October 1, 2008 2:56:41 pm
India said on Wednesday that it will soon formulate a strategy to counter the threat of sea pirates, even as efforts to obtain release of 16 Indian sailors held hostage by pirates off Somalia are in progress.
However, the government would not follow the policy of “hot pursuit” against pirates in the present case, as it had wider implications, Defence Minister A K Antony said after the Defence Accounts Day function in New Delhi.
“The government is in the process of finalising a strategy to meet the increasing threat of piracy in the high seas. Also, as a policy, the government would not carry out hot pursuit of pirates, as it had wider implications,” Antony said.
Pointing out that the government was applying its mind seriously by discussing the strategy with various departments, Antony said a policy on the response system to piracy would have to be taken at the highest levels.
“Piracy in the high seas is becoming a serious problem and all nations, mainly those in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), are concerned about it,” he said.
Recalling that the Indian Navy had in February this year organised a symposium involving Navies of the IOR countries, the minister said they were trying to formulate an international charter to deal with the menace.
“The Indian Navy is in touch with other navies on this, since piracy occurs in the IOR, especially in Somalian waters and other areas. We are in the process of discussing the charter proposals with other navies of the region.
“Ultimately, after deliberations by all agencies, a decision will have to be taken by the government at the highest level,” Antony said.
Stating that piracy was a matter of major concern for the countrymen, especially the abducted sailors’ families, the Defence Minister said negotiations to secure the abducted personnel’s release was in progress.
“The ship is already in a Somalian port. It is not an Indian ship, but registered in Hong Kong. We are closely monitoring the situation and some negotiations are also going on to find a solution. Serious attempt is being made on this issue,” he added.
The Panama ship, MV Stolt Valor, was abducted by pirates from Gulf of Aden in northern part of the African coast and taken to a Somalian port a fortnight ago. There has been no breakthrough yet in the negotiations between international maritime bodies and the shipping company on one side and the pirates on the other.
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