Arab states condemn piracy, vow to keep Red Sea clean
Arab countries overlooking the Red Sea, condemned on Thursday the acts of piracy and armed robbery near Somalia and the seizure of a Saudi oil tanker earlier this week, dpa reported.
The seven countries from the Middle East and Africa met in Cairo to discuss ways to stop piracy in the wake of the seizure by Somali pirates of the supertanker "Sirius Star" with 100 million dollars worth of crude oil on board.
Co-hosted by Egypt and Yemen, the meeting included Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Sudan, Jordan and Somalia and the Arab League.
Participants said piracy was a consequence of the unstable political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia.
The meeting called for the international community to increase its efforts in order to restore security and peace in Somalia.
In a statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting, participating countries confirmed their intention to strengthen the mechanisms for cooperation and consultation with each other to confront such problem and prevent its spread to the sea Red.
They pledged to respect Somalia's sovereignty in doing so.
Participants stressed their ability to detect and pursue any attempt by pirates to enter the Red Sea, whether to carry out acts of piracy or to escape vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said the Red Sea was free of piracy.
"Thus, there is no need to take any measures for this area which is vital for several countries," he told reports after the meeting. All countries overlooking the Red Sea had pledged to keep the area free of piracy.
Piracy also represents a threat to the Suez Canal, a major source of income in the Egyptian economy, as some ships divert around southern Africa rather than going through the canal.
"We are working intensively on all options, examining what measures could be taken in this regard," Zaki was quoted by the official MENA news agency as saying.
The United Nations will hold another anti-piracy meeting next month, which will include other African and Arab countries.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that Somali pirates have received 30 million dollars in ransom this year alone.