Cairo said it was willing to take part in UN-sponsored missions to patrol Somalia's Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean waters, after the UN Security Council approved an 'anti-piracy plan' drawn up by the European Union and set to begin on Dec. 8.
AFP - Egypt is prepared to participate in any UN-sponsored mission to guard ships from piracy off Somalia's coast but it is opposed to unilateral action, cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said on Wednesday.
The UN Security Council said on Tuesday it supported a European Union naval mission off Somalia's coast that will begin on December 8.
"Egypt is prepared to participate in an international force under the auspices of the United Nations off Somalia's coast," the state news agency MENA quoted Rady as saying.
He said the government opposed "unilateral action by any power to confront piracy off Somalia's coast."
Analysts say the increasingly brazen pirates, who have hijacked more than 90 ships this year, will affect revenues from the Suez Canal, an important earner for Egypt.
But Egypt says the strategic waterway's earnings have not been hurt so far and that the Red Sea remains safe for shipping.
Several companies have said they would reroute their shipping lanes after pirates hijacked a Saudi super-tanker with a crew of 25 and two million barrels of crude oil on November 15.
The pirates are demanding 25-million-dollars in ransom for the tanker.
Egypt, which co-hosted with Yemen a meeting for Red Sea states on piracy last month, has said anti-piracy missions must respect the sovereignty of Somalia and the territorial waters of neighbouring states.
It has blamed political turmoil in Somalia for the phenomenon.
Egypt's judicial affairs minister, Mufid Shihab, said Cairo's support for anti-piracy efforts was "conditional on not including the Red Sea within the scope of cooperation," government newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday.
Several countries and NATO have sent ships to the dangerous waters off Somalia. One of NATO's four ships prevented pirates from hijacking five vessels in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday.
Date created : 2008-12-03