President Mohamed Nasheed met with the National Security Act Assessment team of the US Pacific Command who are visiting the Maldives.
The meeting took place at the President’s Office yesterday, where they focused on formulating a national defense and security plan.
President Nasheed said the main areas concerning national defense and security are terrorism, piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and drug trafficking.
The US Pacific Command, led by Army Attaché to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Smith, said they would assist the Maldives in further strengthening the national security framework.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has claimed that while recent reports of pirates operating in Maldivian waters are unsubstantiated, the government is concerned about pirates operating off the Somali coast west of the Maldives.
Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed said the government is keeping in touch “with the Indians and the Americans to enhance maritime security.”
“For now, Somali pirates are operating as far as the Seychelles, but not in the Maldives.”
Dr Shaheed said the government was taking “pre-emptive and preventive measures” to ensure the safety of the country.
State Minister of Defence Muiz Adnan said although there have not been recent reports of pirates operating in Maldivian waters, “this is a concern for everybody. A lot of pirates operate out of Somali waters.”
Adnan said the coast guard conducts regular sea and air patrols and also regularly schedules joint patrols with the Indian army, although “not only concerning piracy.”
He said if any pirate vessels are seen in Maldivian waters, “we will take the necessary measures to apprehend them.”
President of the Fishermen’s Union Ibrahim Manik said he had heard no reports of fishermen sighting any pirate vessels in Maldivian waters, but said that sometimes they saw foreign vessels illegally doing long-line fishing.
Manik said if fishermen saw any illegal vessels, they would “definitely cooperate with the government. We are fighting against this,” he said, but added that “we are not very concerned. We are stronger than that.”