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Govt rules out talks with pirates

Wednesday, 4 May 2011 - 7:45pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI
Government today ruled out any possibility of holding talks with Somali pirates, who are holding 46 Indians, and decided to 'wait and watch' as ship owners continue to negotiate the release of the hostages.

Government today ruled out any possibility of holding talks with Somali pirates who are holding 46 Indians and decided to "wait and watch" as ship owners continue to negotiate the release of the hostages.

The decision was taken at an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG), which met here for the first time after being set up last month to deal with the problem.

The meeting was of the view that the government should not negotiate with the pirates or enter into deals for release of crew on ransom, sources said.

It was decided that the government would "wait and watch for the outcome of negotiations between pirates and ship owners for release of Indian crew still held captive including seven hostages of Indian freighter MV Asphalt Venture", they said.

The IMG, headed by additional secretary, Shipping, Vijay Chhibber, and including senior official from Ministries of External Affairs, Home Affairs, Defence, Information and Broadcasting besides Navy and Intelligence Bureau, was formed on the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) to deal with the problem of piracy which has been on the rise and to strengthen security measures.

At present, 46 Indians are in the captivity of Somali pirates after being captured on board four vessels over last year or so. They include seven aboard Indian freighter Asphalt Venture, whose other eight hostages were released after payment of ransom recently.

The sources said a deal was struck for about USD 2 million for release of the entire crew of 15 people onboard Asphalt Venture but the pirates backed out and released only eight.

The captain of MV Asphalt Venture, who was released along with seven others, has offered to go back and hold talks for release of the remaining crew, the sources claimed.

Apart from MV Asphalt Venture, the ships in captivity of pirates include MV Iceberg and MV Suez and among others.

 




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