Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 10:37 UK

EU to train Somali piracy force

A group of pirates on a Portuguese frigates, their arms up in surrender, in a photo released by NATO in May 2009
The EU already runs an anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast

The European Union has announced plans to train Somali security forces to tackle the pirates operating along the country's coast.

It will send a planning team to the region next month. The training will take place in neighbouring Djibouti, which has French and US military bases.

EU nations have already sent ships to fight the pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

But Somalia's embattled government has always argued that training its forces is the best way to defeat the pirates.

France, however, is sceptical about how many EU nations will take part.

Good intentions

The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana announced the training plan following a meeting of the EU's 27 foreign ministers.

He said the EU was concentrating on three issues:

• the training itself

• how to pay the salaries of the new security force

• how to cooperate with the African Union peacekeeping mission already in Somalia.

Mr Solana said he hoped the plans could be finalised next month.

Quoted on the news agency AFP, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said other countries did have good intentions.

But he added: "France is the only one for the moment that is determined to do anything. I hope that will change."

Two dozen ships from European Union nations, including the UK, France, Germany and Italy, are currently patrolling an area of about two million sq miles (five million sq km) off the Somali coast.

Other countries have also sent vessels, including the US, Russia, Malaysia and China.

Somalia's UN-backed government is battling Islamist insurgents and only controls a small part of the country.

It has not had an effective central government for more than 18 years and this lack of law and order has led to the rise of piracy.

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