India, Somalia discuss piracy, maritime security

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New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) With many ships, including Indian ones, becoming victim of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, India and Somalia on Tuesday discussed piracy and maritime security among a range of issues during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and visiting Somali Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad Omar here.

“The entire gamut of India-Somalia bilateral relations, including the issue of piracy and maritime security were discussed between the two sides during the meetings,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The Somali Foreign Minister also held talks with Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar.

“Further, discussions on regional issues pertaining to developments in Gulf region and India’s neighborhood were held,” it stated.

Omar, who is accompanied by a senior-level official delegation, arrived here on Monday on a five-day visit at the invitation of Sushma Swaraj. This is his first visit to India since he assumed office earlier this year.

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On Tuesday, the two sides also signed an agreement for transfer of sentenced persons in each other’s country.

The Union Cabinet had in June given its approval for the ratification of the agreement on transfer of sentenced persons between India and Somalia, located on the Horn of Africa.

Earlier this year, India had thanked Somalia for rescuing 10 of its nationals held by pirates.

The Indians were crew members on a commercial vessel — Al Kausar — that was hijacked by pirates off the Indian Ocean coast near Yemen.

Somali security forces liberated the vessel in April.

India also offers Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) training scholarships and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships to Somalia.

Somalia, situated near the Horn of Africa with the Gulf of Aden to its north, is among the partner countries of India’s Pan African e-Network project.

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The India-Somalia bilateral talks come as China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. Somalia shares border with Djibouti on the west.

India-Somalia bilateral trade stood at $391.05 million in 2014-15, a more than 51 per cent increase over the figure of $257.27 million in 2013-14.

The Somali Foreign Minister will also travel to Mumbai and Hyderabad during the course of his visit.

The visit is part of India’s increased engagement with Africa.

Earlier this year, India also hosted the annual meeting of African Development Bank.



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