US looks to India as strategic partner in the fight against pirates

In an interview yesterday the US ambassador to India, Timothy J Roemer, voiced concern over the increase in pirate activities and said that the United States viewed India as a possible “strategic partner” in countering the menace.

Responding to queries about the United States’ concerns on piracy Ambassador Roemer stated that “We know India experiences the phenomenon of piracy, terrorism and exploitation and we believe that in the Memorandum of Counter Terrorism, that was recently signed between the US and India, that maritime security can be an area where we can work together in the future.”

Ambassador Roemer pointed out that the United States has been affected by piracy and, noting that four of its citizens had recently been killed by pirates, stated that “We know that these pirates are increasingly reaching out further and further offshore going 200 to 600 miles offshore to reach ships and hostages. We know that there is no infrastructure in Africa to prosecute these people.” He added that India could be a “very strategic partner to talk about best practices” to tackle the menace.

Without going as far as to name Pakistan or Afghanistan, Roemer stated that the epicentre of global terrorism was located in Asia, adding that all possible efforts were being made to ensure the safety of American citizens and mutual interests.

Roemer went on to say that “We (India and the US) face a very similar threat. The counter-terrorism agreement signed last summer will define our partnership in the days to come.”

Continuing on the theme of counterterrorism, Roemer said that India and the United States could work together by sharing information, technology, and intelligence on terrorist groups that target India, America or any other country.

Replying to questions about the current situation in Libya, Ambassador Roemer complimented the Indian Government on its work in evacuating its citizens from the strife-torn North African country.

Roemer stated that “The US is very concerned about the situation in Libya. It is concerned to see that will of the Libyan people is accepted there, secondly to see that the violence ends and thirdly that Gaddafi steps aside.”

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Mark Lowe, Friday 11 March 2011

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