With piracy on the rise off the east coast of Africa, Spain and France have joined forces in an effort to tackle the problem. The countries’ defence ministers signed an agreement to work closely together as part of an international crackdown on the maritime hijackers.
The pact was signed on a French frigate in Djibouti, as the two navies carried out joint manouevres. The deal will allow Spanish naval vessels to operate out of the French base at Djibouti. “We want to save this sea from pirates and return it to civilisation,” the Spanish defence minister, Carme Charcon, said.
US, European and Russian navy ships have moved into the Gulf of Aden in recent days to protect some of the 20,000 merchant boats that use the waterway each year. About 60 vessels have been seized by pirates this year. It is thought sums of around 20 million euros have been paid in ransom for the release of crews and ships.