Latvian troops not to be deployed to Somalia

  • 2008-12-02
  • TBT staff in cooperation with BNS

RIGA- According to Latvian Defense Minister Vinets Veldre troops of theLatvian National Armed Forces (NAF) will not be deployed to Somalia for participation in an anti-piracymission, for now.

Veldre said that althoughthey are not planning to send troops, Latvia is supporting the internationalmission financially.

"We are not planningto send ground forces to Somalia, but we could consider this in thefuture when Latvia has built appropriate ships. At themoment we have no vessels of this class that could be useful there. We haveother ships that we need for ourselves," Veldre explained.

Defense Ministryrepresentative Airis Rikveilis told BNSthat the ministry had been considering sending a soldier or a military unit tothis mission, but said Latvia has serious commitments in the NATO-ledmission in Afghanistan and operations in Kosovo.

The aim of the EUanti-piracy mission is to improve security of shipping off the Somali coast andto put an end to the attacks of pirates. The EU mission Atlanta is to take over the current NATOoperation in Somalia in mid-December.

Armed pirates have seizedmore than 60 ships in the Somali waters this year, which is one of the keymaritime routes to the Suez Channel, used to transport about 30 percent of theglobal oil output.