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EU Takes on Somalia Pirates


The European Union has launched an anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, following an increase in pirate attacks this year. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports on results of an E.U. ministers' meeting in Brussels.

The 27-member European Union is deploying air and naval forces off the coast of Somalia.

The International Maritime Bureau reports 63 acts of piracy this year off Somalia's coast and in the Gulf of Aden. In most cases, Somali pirates have demanded huge ransoms in return for releasing the ships.

The EU mission is dubbed Operation Atalanta, and it will also help protect U.N. and other foreign vessels in the region.

European foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he hoped more than half a dozen ships and surveillance aircraft will be in place by December. NATO recently launched a similar mission in the region, which is a key hub for shipping traffic.

Meanwhile, current EU president France also said the bloc has agreed to resume partnership talks with Russia that were suspended after its invasion of Georgia in August. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said there had been widespread support for resuming the talks among EU defense and foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Foreign policy chief Solana also made the case for the talks to resume in remarks to reporters earlier in the day.

"I think to have a relationship with Russia, which has a framework, is better for the interest of the European Union - it is better than to have a relationship which is outside the framework," he said. That does not mean we are going to have business as usual. It would not be as usual," said Solana.

The issue of resuming the partnership talks is expected to be taken up at an EU-Russia summit Friday in Nice, France.

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