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US agencies to discuss piracy response: Official

Representatives of several US government agencies will meet on Friday to craft a potential response to the recent spate of piracy attacks, the State Department said on Thursday.

world Updated: Apr 17, 2009 10:56 IST

Representatives of several US government agencies will meet on Friday to craft a potential response to the recent spate of piracy attacks, the State Department said on Thursday.

“This is the start of our efforts to implement the secretary’s new counter-piracy policy,” Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, told AFP. “It demonstrates our commitment to working to a coordinated and effective response.”

Duguid’s comments came after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a four-point plan on Wednesday, calling for prosecution and freezing pirates’ assets with the support of Washington’s international partners.

Clinton said a group that includes State Department, Defense Department, Justice Department and intelligence community members would meet “to consider recent events and potential responses.”

Washington is also sending an envoy to an April 23 Somali donors’ conference in Brussels aimed at improving the situation in lawless Somalia, Clinton said.

“The solution to Somali piracy includes improved Somali capacity to police their own territory,” she stressed, warning that the United States “does not make concessions or ransom payments to pirates.”

The interagency meeting was set to take place after US media reported that a teenage pirate captured by US Navy forces would face trial in a New York court.

The pirate was identified as 19-year-old Abdulwali Muse, believed to be the ringleader of four Somali hijackers who attacked the US-flagged Maersk Alabama cargo ship on April 8 and took its captain hostage, according to CBS News.

Muse was taken aboard a US warship, the USS Bainbridge, shortly before US Navy snipers shot three of his cohorts dead and freed Captain Richard Phillips.