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India urges UN to patrol Gulf of Aden

India urges UN to patrol Gulf of Aden

Mumbai: Just days after a navy warship foiled hijack attempts in the Gulf of Aden, India wants the United Nations to step forward and prevent such attacks off the Somalian coast.

APVN Sarma, secretary (shipping), who is heading an Indian delegation to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London, has asked the IMO to recommend to the UN to constitute a peacekeeping force under a unified command to keep a check on pirate attacks.

Calling for "immediate concerted action," Sarma expressed concern over disjointed efforts of different navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden. He said this had led to navies laying down their own priorities in giving assistance to ships carrying a particular flag or those having sailors of a specific nationality.

The 101st council meeting of IMO is underway in London. The Indian delegation also urged the IMO to take immediate steps to provide assistance and security to international shipping, irrespective of the country the vessel belongs to or the nationality of its sailors.

The Gulf of Aden accounts for 12 per cent of the world's seaborne oil trade and 50 per cent of world's seaborne dry bulk transportation. Over 60 incidents of pirates hijacking ships have been reported this year.

On November 11, INS Tabar, a stealth frigate, foiled two hijack attempts involving an Indian and a Saudi merchant vessel. Somalian pirates hijacked the Stolt Valor, a Hong Kong-registered tanker, off the coast of Yemen on September 15 when it was sailing from Suez to Mumbai. The families of the 18 Indians on board the hijacked ship are still waiting for them to be rescued.  [14/11/08]