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South Korea backs off

South Korea backs off
South Korea has backed off from sending naval vessels to patrol pirate-infested waters off the Somalian and East African coasts.

South Korea has backed off from sending naval vessels to patrol pirate-infested waters off the Somalian and East African coasts.

South Korea has backed off from sending naval vessels to patrol pirate-infested waters off the Somalian and East African coasts, amid concerns about the Won45bn ($30.6m) cost of the deployment.

But a Defence Ministry spokesman said the proposal had been delayed rather than scrapped.

The government of President Lee Myung-bak had planned to seek parliamentary approval by the end of this year to send a destroyer and naval forces to the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean around Somalia.

But Mr Lee called for ?more prudence? during a cabinet meeting this week before a Bill was submitted to South Korea"s National Assembly seeking approval to deploy military forces.

Ruling party lawmaker Yoo Seung-min said Defence Minister Lee Sang-hee had been in contact and said the government would take more time. He also mentioned the need for more discussions with the US.

Mr Yoo told the local press: ?The minister did not say when the plan will be pushed again. But it won"t be before the February assembly session.?

A Defence Ministry spokesman said: ?There are no changes in the plan to send the navy. A little delay has been made in submitting the bill to parliament, but the actual dispatch date won"t change much.?

The seafarers" committee of the Asian Shipowners" Forum, which represents seven shipowner groups in the region, also called for more government action, both individually and collectively through the United Nations, to tackle piracy off Somalia.

Following discussions at its latest meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the committee said it ?noted with serious concern the continuing attacks on ships in the Gulf of Aden?.

It said the violent incidents ?represent a severe threat to the safety of ships trading through this area, one of the world"s most strategically important seaways, linking Europe and Asia via the Red Sea and Suez Canal?.

The committee also expressed its concern over the trauma suffered by seafarers on hijacked ships and on ships passing through the area.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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