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Sat Nov 01 06:03:25 SAST 2014

SA mulls helping Somalia fight pirates

Sapa | 22 February, 2011 12:130 Comments

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South Africa has agreed to consider helping Somalia counter the root causes of piracy, but there was no decision to send troops to that country, Cabinet said on Tuesday.

"Cabinet noted the increasing threat of piracy in South African waters and agreed to explore initiatives aimed at assisting Somalia to counter some of the root causes of piracy," a statement at the regular fortnightly Cabinet briefing said.

It said Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu would lead efforts to develop a strategy on coping with Somali pirates.

The ministry would look at how South Africa could contribute to political stability in Somalia and how it could best utilise the navy in combating the threat of piracy, that has become a growing threat in southern African waters.

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said this did not mean that there had been any decision or even a request for military intervention on South Africa's part in Somalia.

"The question about the Mozambique Channel right up to the Gulf of Aden is of course a difficult one. It is difficult because the policy we have pursued in respect of military is non-aggression and where we have engaged in peacekeeping operations it has always been at the request preferably of an international or continental agency," he said.

"I don't think it would be correct to say that as a government we would take decisions that might be deemed to be aggressive without there being a discussion in a multi-lateral or super-national agency about the issue, and so we haven't reached that point because there is no request on the table."

The navy announced earlier this month that it would deploy a frigate and a support vessel in the Mozambique Channel to help counter the threat of attacks by Somali pirates.

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