The new Somali government has welcomed the rescue Sunday of an American ship Captain held hostage by four Somali pirates for days in a life. This comes after negotiations by Somali-backed elders failed to persuade the pirates to release Captain Richard Philips. The captain's released followed a brief firefight between the pirates and the U.S naval forces in which three of the pirates were killed and one captured. Captain Philips was reportedly unharmed after his ordeal with the pirates.
Abdulrahman Haji Ibbi is the Somali minister for Fisheries. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Mogadishu that the new Somali government is determined to resolve the piracy problem once and for all.
"We strongly supported the traditional leaders from the area to go and put more effort in any kind of endeavor and we are also trying to encourage them to finalize the piracy issue once and for all, because we don't want people to be harmed or any American to be harmed. We know that the United States of America is the largest donor of the humanitarian aid to Somalia. So, we don't want any more unnecessary actions to happen to any American," Haji Ibbi noted.
He said Mogadishu wants to resolve the piracy crisis off the Somali coast.
"Our government is in talks with all traditional leaders in the area, whether from Puntland of from the area of south central Somalia were prepared to go and intervened when he (American Captain) was being held," he said.
Haji Ibbi dismissed as unfortunate after Mogadishu was accused for not doing enough to resolve the hostage standoff between the US forces and the Somali pirates.
"Although there are lots of people working in the international community to help with the situation, we don't want any American to be harmed because we are very grateful to the Americans because they helped us a great deal when we needed the most help. You know we have the largest community of Somalis in the United States of America and the American people accepted our people when our people needed help and you have a lot of Somalis in Minnesota, Columbus, San Diego, Washington, D.C. Virginia , Maryland and we know most people are not happy about the hostage situation," Haji Ibbi pointed out.
He reiterated the new government's desire to resolve the piracy crisis off the Somali coast.
"We want to as a matter of urgency resolve this problem as soon as possible. We have to do and we are in the process of doing it because it is totally different and as I continue saying the United States of America is the largest donor to the Somali humanitarian aid to our country and we don't want any American to be hurt again. And we will try our best to do whatever we can," he said.
Mogadishu and Nairobi signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last week on their maritime boundary which both countries say will facilitate the presentation of their submissions to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by May, as required under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Hard line Islamist insurgent group, al-Shabaab called the memorandum of understanding signed between Kenya and Somalia as "null and void saying the agreement amounts to compromising the territorial integrity of Somalia and inadvertently ceding land to Kenya.
But Haji Ibbi said the hard line insurgent group has no clue about the signed MOU between Mogadishu and Nairobi.
"These people don't understand when you are talking about a territorial integrity and sovereignty who can give it away like that? This is an issue that the commission of United Nations was expecting from us to sign it because it is something that depends on the outer limit of the continental shelf of Somalia, which we would like to submit to the Unite Nations Secretary General. To do that we have to have a memorandum of understanding and it is not an agreement, but these people do not understand it at all," Haji Ibbi noted.
Meanwhile, talks to free Captain Philips began last Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer. The pirates had threatened to kill Philips if attacked.
The U.S. Navy had assumed the pirates would try to get their hostage to shore, where they can hide him on Somalia's lawless soil and be in a stronger position to negotiate a ransom. But the U.S. soldiers aboard warships launched a raid on the lifeboat in which the four pirates held U.S. cargo ship captain Richard Phillips, killing three hijackers and taking one in custody on one of the ships.
Earlier Saturday two Somalis involved in the negotiations said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.