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Antony rules out military action to free Indian sailors
New Delhi, Mar 3 (IANS):
Published on 3 Mar. 2011 11:38 PM IST
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Ruling out a military offensive against Somali pirates to free Indian hostages on board two hijacked cargo ships, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Thursday lamented that the 18 navies from around the world operating in the Gulf of Aden region were finding it difficult to contain the brigands. “No, there is no military option,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of an international hydrography seminar organised by the Indian Navy here when asked if the government was considering an offensive against the pirates to free the hostages. At the same time, he admitted to a “sorry state of affairs” in the efforts to contain piracy.
“It is a sorry state of affairs. Because, in spite of the fact that 18 navies of the world (have a presence in the Gulf of Aden) we are not able to contain this piracy,” Antony said.
However, he exuded confidence that the world navies would be able to stop piracy through joint efforts.
“But efforts (to contain piracy) are going on. More and more coordination is there between all the nations.
Even though we are finding it difficult to contain them, we will be able to succeed ultimately. We will not let up. Not only India, piracy is a cause of worry to all the nations,” he said.
Expressing concern over the plight of the Indian sailors held hostage, Antony said the government understood the pain of their families. “The entire government is aware of the sensitivity. We are all concerned about the agonies of the people. So the government is doing its best to understand the problem,” he added.
Somali pirates are holding nine Indians among 22 crew members of Iranian merchant vessel M.V. Sinan since Feb 12 year and another six Indians among 25 sailors on board Egyptian cargo ship M.V. Suez since Aug 2, 2010.
The pirates have threatened to kill the hostages if their ransom demands were not met.
“All agencies of the government are working together. We are doing everything possible to find a solution. We are continuing our efforts. We hope there will some solution in the near future,” he said.
Asked if any ransom would be paid to the pirates to free the Indian sailors, Antony said the government was not handling the money part of the negotiations.
“That part, government is not handling. We are trying to hasten the process of releasing the abducted. For that, all agencies are working together. Ministry of external affairs is coordinating and all others are cooperating,” he added.
Addressing the seminar, Antony said that keeping the Indian Ocean free of piracy was one of the prime drivers of energy security of several nations, including India.
“Maritime security is extremely crucial for our energy security as well as overall national security. The necessary precondition to maintain our economic growth is our dependence on stable energy supplies,” he said.
“Actually, it (piracy) is becoming a more and more serious problem. Everyday, we are getting alerts and threats. There are families of the abducted and their worries. Their pain and agony is a matter of concern to all of us,” he said.

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