Arab countries meet to tackle Somali pirate threat
Egypt hosted Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia on Thursday in a bid to protect valuable maritime trade routes from pirates.
This week's capture of a Saudi supertanker by Somali pirates sent a chill through international shipping and turned up the heat on politicians and businessmen across the region.Skip to next paragraph
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On Thursday, diplomats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia met in a closed-door meeting in Cairo to share their concerns over the possible effects of piracy on much-needed shipping and trade.
But government officials and independent analysts agree that, without efforts by North American, European, and Asian countries, there is little that the Arab states that border the Red Sea can do to defend their economic interests from the lawlessness leaking out of Somalia.
He says the meeting was meant to "coordinate thinking and ideas" among the countries of the Red Sea region. Options for future action were said to include setting up a piracy monitoring center, joint maneuvers by Arab navies, and warning systems, although few specifics were immediately available.
Firms consider rerouting ships
Earlier in the day, major international shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk announced plans to reroute some of its fleet around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope to avoid the possibility of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden. Norway's Frontline, another large shipping company, said it was "definitely considering," doing the same.
"We haven't done it yet. We are definitely considering it. It's possible," Martin Jensen told Reuters. "Of course, like many in the industry, we are instructing all our ships to call as close to Yemen and as far from Somalia as possible."
Last weekend's hijacking of the Sirius Star tanker jolted Arab leaders and global shipping firms to attention. The ship was travelling from Saudi Arabia to the United States via the Cape of Good Hope when it was seized about 450 nautical miles off the coast of Kenya. It was carrying a full load of oil, roughly equivalent to one-fourth of Saudi Arabia's daily output, worth $100 million.