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News number: 8710021649

18:11 | 2008-12-22

Defence

نسخه چاپي ارسال به دوستان

Iran, China to Launch Counter-Piracy Patrols

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran and China are sending their warships to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden.



After travelling more than 4,000 maritime miles an Iranian warship entered the Gulf of Aden late last week to protect Iranian ships against pirates.

The decision to send the ship came after Somali pirates hijacked the Iranian ship, Delight, off the coast of Yemen in November. On August 21, around 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades targeted Diyanat, shortly after the ship had crossed the Horn of Africa.

China also said late on Saturday that it was sending to two navy destroyers and a support vessel in the area to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

"Their major task is to protect the safety of Chinese ships and crew on board as well as ships carrying humanitarian relief material for the international organizations, such as the United Nations' World Food Program," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

He had earlier said seven ships, which were either owned by China or carrying Chinese cargo and crew, had been hijacked. The pirates continued to hold one fishing boat and its 18-member crew.

The Iranian and Chinese ships will join foreign vessels from the EU, US, Russia, India, Malaysia and others that have been deployed to keep vital shipping lanes free for commerce.

The dispatch of new warships follows a decision on December 16 by the UN Security Council that allows countries to attack pirate bases on land as part of the anti-piracy drive.

The Gulf of Aden is vital for international trade as it leads into the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. It is estimated that 330-500 pirates are active in Somalia waters, and piracy is led by three main clans. Defense analysts say that six to eight mother ships are steering piracy in area.

China has announced that its naval deployment to the seas off Somalia to fight pirates will be of three vessels. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao confirmed on Saturday that the taskforce would consist of three vessels, and would patrol the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia.

The Ministry of Defense said the taskforce would consist of two destroyers and a supply ship, and will leave Sanya of southern Hainan Province on December 26.

"Chinese naval vessels will strictly follow UN Security Council resolutions and international laws. They are willing to work with other countries and to take part in humanitarian relief tasks," Liu said.