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September 19, 2008

Spain supports EU antipiracy effort with surveillance plane

EU efforts to counter the problem of piracy in Somali waters are already underway.

At a European Council meeting on September 16, European ministers approved "a strategic military option for a possible European Union naval operation" against Somali pirates.

On Wednesday, Spain's Minister of Defense, Carme Chacon, announced the immediate deployment over Somali waters of a P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. It will arrive in the area at the end of this week to prevent possible attacks by pirate ships.

Ms. Chacon said the aircraft will carry out surveillance work and intelligence gathering, and provide data on the movements of the pirates to a European Union Coordination Cell created to support monitoring and protection activities off the coast of Somalia.

The EU Coordination Cell, which was approved Monday, will be headed by Spanish ship captain Andrew Breijer. It will support the activities of states with assets off the Somali coast and will liaise with international organizations and agencies (World Food Program, International Maritime Organization, owner associations of the European Community and the International Chamber of Shipping); advising on the deployment of military assets; disseminating information on the activities of international agencies in the area, warning of possible threats, and supporting EU strategy.

Ms. Chacon said the EU is considering an ESDP (European Security and Defense Policy) mission of protection and surveillance in the region and has already begun the process of planning it.


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