Efforts on for release of 53 Indian sailors: Krishna



New Delhi: India is making all out efforts to seek the safe release of 53 sailors held by Somali pirates, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said on Friday, adding that a government panel has approved a series of measures to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

"The Cabinet Committee on Security met today (Friday) and considered proposals with regard to conduct of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia," Krishna said in the Lok Sabha.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, "approved a series of measures which will be taken by the government to address the legal, administrative and operational aspects of combating piracy", the minister said.

He said "a broad policy framework" related to all the aspects of piracy was approved. "This would involve actions that would be taken in the medium and long term by the ministries of shipping, external affairs and defence," he said.

Krishna said that the cabinet meeting decided to form an inter-ministerial group that would be headed by the cabinet secretary and which would act as an apex forum to monitor early release of Indian ships or crew or cargo.

He said at last 53 Indian sea-farers on five ships were in the captivity of Somali pirates.

"The government will take all appropriate action to safeguard their welfare," he said.

The measures approved include "intensifying diplomatic efforts both at the multilateral level and within the framework of the United Nations", he said.

He said that diplomatic efforts would also be intensified through consultations with the governments of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the owners of concerned vessels live.

Krishna said India would also talk to the governments of other nationals who are also being held as hostages.

IANS