(AFP) – Oct 1, 2008
MOSCOW (AFP) — Somalia welcomes Russian help in fighting piracy off its coast and is "not satisfied" with warships from other countries, the country's ambassador to Moscow said Wednesday.
President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed "gave permission for Russian ships to enter the sea (off Somalia) and fight the pirates in the sea and on the coast," ambassador Mohammed Mahmud Handule said at a press conference in Moscow.
Handule spoke as a Russian warship headed to the African country's coast amid a standoff between the US Navy and Somali pirates over a hijacked Ukrainian cargo ship carrying tanks and other arms.
The ambassador criticised the activities of foreign warships off Somalia, although he did not name any countries.
"Many warships can be found near our shores, but we are not satisfied with the results of their activities," said Handule.
"More than 10 countries are patrolling (Somalia waters) but we have asked Russia and she agreed to our request," he said, referring to an international effort to contain piracy.
Several US warships blockaded the MV Faina -- a Belize-flagged cargo ship with a Russian, Ukrainian and Latvian crew -- in a pirate stronghold on Somalia's Indian Ocean coast after pirates seized the ship last week.
Handule also offered warm words for Moscow, a former Cold War ally of Somalia.
The enovy praised Russia's conduct in its war with Georgia in August and said Somalia would follow Moscow in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the rebel Georgian regions at the heart of the war.
Most of the world condemned Moscow's decision to recognise the regions' independence and only a few countries backed Russia in its war with Georgia.
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