India on Thursday made a strong pitch to the United Nations to take the lead in evolving a comprehensive response to the threat of international piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia to ensure unhindered maritime trade.
Simultaneously, the international community should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while addressing the joint session of Ethiopian Parliament here.
Dr. Singh, who is the first-ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia, said as a littoral state of the Indian Ocean, India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African countries in this regard.
The Prime Minister received a standing ovation from a packed Parliament as he entered with his wife Gursharan Kaur.
“The Horn of Africa is today faced with threats from piracy and terrorism. International piracy in the Red sea and off the coat of Somalia has become a well-organised industry.
It is important that the United Nations take the lead in developing a comprehensive and effective response to this threat,” Dr. Singh said.
“We would all like the Indian Ocean to remain a secure link between Asia and Africa through which international maritime trade can take place unhindered,” he said.
India has repeatedly voiced its serious concerns over the threats posed by Somali pirates since about 11 per cent of seafarers engaged by international shipping companies are Indian nationals, some of whom have been taken hostage.
There have been over 200 attacks, including about 70 successful hijackings and ransoms believed to exceed USD 50 million have been paid to the pirates for securing the release of hostages and ships.