Govt rules out talks with pirates

Government Wednesday ruled out any possibility of holding talks with Somali pirates who are holding 46 Indians and decided to "wait and watch" as ship owners continue to negotiate the release of the hostages.

Last Updated: May 04, 2011, 21:46 PM IST

New Delhi: Government Wednesday ruled out any
possibility of holding talks with Somali pirates who are
holding 46 Indians and decided to "wait and watch" as ship
owners continue to negotiate the release of the hostages.

The decision was taken at an Inter-Ministerial Group
(IMG), which met here for the first time after being set up
last month to deal with the problem.

The meeting was of the view that the government should
not negotiate with the pirates or enter into deals for release
of crew on ransom, sources said.

It was decided that the government would "wait and watch
for the outcome of negotiations between pirates and ship
owners for release of Indian crew still held captive including
seven hostages of Indian freighter MV Asphalt Venture", they
said.

The IMG, headed by Additional Secretary, Shipping, Vijay
Chhibber, and including senior official from Ministries of
External Affairs, Home Affairs, Defence, Information and
Broadcasting besides Navy and Intelligence Bureau, was formed
on the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS)
to deal with the problem of piracy which has been on the rise
and to strengthen security measures.

At present, 46 Indians are in the captivity of Somali
pirates after being captured on board four vessels over last
year or so. They include seven aboard Indian freighter Asphalt
Venture, whose other eight hostages were released after
payment of ransom recently.

The sources said a deal was struck for about USD 2
million for release of the entire crew of 15 people onboard
Asphalt Venture but the pirates backed out and released only
eight.

The captain of MV Asphalt Venture, who was released
along with seven others, has offered to go back and hold talks
for release of the remaining crew, the sources claimed.

Apart from MV Asphalt Venture, the ships in captivity of
pirates include MV Iceberg and MV Suez and among others.

PTI