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Russia's Lavrov discusses anti-piracy with Somali counterpart


MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister has met with his Somali counterpart to discuss international efforts to protect shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden from Somali pirate attacks, the Russian ministry said.

Lavrov met with Muhammad Abdullahi Omar on Saturday on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference foreign ministers' meeting in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

"The sides agreed on the need to achieve a strong national reconciliation in this country, in the interests of strengthening security and stability in the region. Problems of tackling piracy off the Horn of Africa coastline were discussed in detail," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the Revolutionary Socialist Party was overthrown in 1991. The internationally recognized federal government controls only the capital city of Mogadishu and part of central Somalia.

Around 20 warships from the navies of at least a dozen countries, including Russia, are involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. According to the United Nations, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in combined ransom payouts of around $150 million.

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