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Somali gov't says foreign warships in territorial waters "welcome"
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09:08, October 20, 2008

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The Somali transitional government said on Sunday it welcomes the foreign warships guarding the war-torn Horn of Africa country's pirate-infested coast where a number of ships and their crew are being held hostage by Somali pirates who demand ransom for their release.

Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein said in a news conference in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, that the foreign forces which include U.S. and Russian warships are welcome to fight rampant piracy in the Horn of Africa coast.

"The warships from NATO and other countries are welcome to fight piracy in our coast," Hussein told reporters at his residence in Mogadishu. "They have our permission because they are responding to our request to the United Nations to help us deal with the menace."

He said he was aware that some Somali officials expressed concerns that some of the warships may be involved in illegal activities, but added that "the issue be dealt with separately".

On Saturday, Deputy Speaker of the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament Omar Dalha said in Nairobi, Kenya, that the foreign warships "could be involved in illegal fishing" in Somalia's waters, calling on them to "seek a permission from the government before fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia".

NATO, along with Russia and other countries, this week sent seven warships to Somali territorial waters to fight increasing piracy in the Horn of Africa coast, one of the most dangerous waterways in the world.

The hijacking last month of a Ukrainian ship carrying a controversial cargo of military hardware along with dozens of other ships already held in Somalia coast, raised international concerns about the safety of the waterway close to the war-ravaged country which has no air or naval forces to fight the escalating piracy activities.


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