GCC naval commanders meet to discuss piracy

June 29, 2009

Naval commanders from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and other Arab nations along the Red Sea held a joint conference in Riyadh today, to formulate a working plan to confront piracy in the region. Saudi Naval Forces Admiral Prince Fahd bin Mohammed chaired the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the U.A.E., Jordan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Sudan, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait and Yemen.

Addressing the gathering, Prince Fahd stressed the serious economic and security threats posed by piracy along the Horn of Africa to the Arab region. “Sea-lanes constitute the major means of transportation for our exports and imports,” he said, noting that attacks against commercial ships and oil tankers in the area have increased remarkably in recent months. “The Kingdom views piracy as a crime which undermines the global economy,” he added.

During a press briefing on the sidelines of the conference, Prince Fahd said, “Saudi Royal Naval Forces are currently patrolling the Gulf of Aden and these forces have provided protection to many Saudi merchant ships and commercial ships of other countries.” The Kingdom’s goal for the meeting, he explained, is to get other Arab nations to join the effort to protect the region’s waterways from piracy.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the naval commanders issued the Riyadh Declaration, which called for the creation of a joint Arab naval force under a unified command to fight Red Sea piracy. Saudi Arabia will coordinate the efforts and hold a follow-up meeting in two months to gauge progress, the document specified.

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