EU seeks counter-piracy cooperation with east African counties

20:25, May 14, 2010      

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European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced Friday she would visit Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles on May 18-21 to discuss anti-piracy operations.

In her first visit to Africa, a key strategic partner for the EU, Ashton will visit those countries most affected by piracy off the east coast of the continent, near the Somali coastline, and explore with them options for effective and sustainable solutions.

"Piracy is one of the big challenges of our times, both for the region and for the international community," said Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, adding that it undermined maritime security in the Indian Ocean and stability and development in the region.

"We need to tackle both the root causes and the symptoms of the problem in a comprehensive manner. We want to build a partnership with the countries in the region towards sustainable solutions based on local ownership with international support," she said.

During her stay in Tanzania and the Seychelles, Ashton is due to visit one of the vessels as well as surveillance aircraft participating in Operation Atalanta, the EU's anti-piracy mission.

Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 to contribute to the protection of World Food Program vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, to the protection of vulnerable vessels sailing in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia and to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery.

The EU's regional approach is aimed at the prosecution and detention of suspected pirates.

It has concluded transfer agreements with Kenya and the Seychelles. Agreements with other countries in the region are under discussion.

The EU is also seeking stability and security in Somalia and responding to the needs of the Somali people. In this context, the EU just launched a training mission (EUTM) in Uganda to train Somali troops.

In Kenya, Ashton will also meet with the UN Special Representative for Somalia and key representatives of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.



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