New Plan To Tackle Somali Pirates Outlined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
4/15/2009 4:07 PM ET (RTTNews) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton on Wednesday outlined a four-step strategy to tackle the escalating piracy problem off the coast of Somalia."We may be dealing with a 17th-century crime, but we need to bring 21st century assets to bear," Clinton told reporters at the State Department.The four-point plan announced by Secretary Clinton included expanding international efforts to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden, tracking and freezing the assets of pirates, promoting the deployment of defense mechanisms on board ships and improving the situation in Somalia.She said that the United States would send an envoy to the Somali donors conference in Brussels on April 23 to discus ways to improve conditions in the Horn of Africa country, which has not had a proper functioning government since the fall of the last government in 1991. "Our envoy will work with other partners to help the Somalis assist us in cracking down on pirate bases and in decreasing incentives for young Somali men to engage in piracy," she said.She said that she will discuss ways of expanding the international anti-piracy operations in the region with countries that have already deployed naval vessels in the Gulf of Aden to combat escalating piracy there.
Secretary Clinton stressed on the importance of tracking and freezing assets of the pirates, stating that it was "time to eliminate the financial payoff of piracy." She also reiterated the U.S. policy of "making no concessions or ransom payments to hostage takers."She also reminded the shipping industry that it too has a responsibility in contributing to the fight against piracy and said that she has instructed the U.S. State Department to "work with shippers and the insurance industry to address gaps in their self-defense measures."The Gulf of Aden, which is one of the world's busiest sea lanes, has been affected by piracy in recent months and more than hundred pirate attacks have been reported in the waters off Somalia since the beginning of 2008. Generally, the crew and the vessels are returned unharmed on receiving the demanded ransom. The pirate attacks off the Somali coast have escalated in recent weeks despite the presence of some 20 warships, deployed by navies of the NATO, the European Union, Russia, China, and India, in the region to protect cargo and cruise ships against piracy.The UN Security Council also has approved four resolutions since June to promote international efforts to fight the escalating piracy problem off the coast of Somalia, and has authorized counties engaged in anti-piracy operations to conduct land and air attacks on the pirates after obtaining prior permission from the Somali government. by RTT Staff Writer