Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) - South Africa has established formal diplomatic relations with Somalia and committed 100 million rand (US$13 million) to help the transitional Somali government build adequate institutions of governance.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane expressed hope that the breakthrough will see the two countries resolve the stand-off over two South Africans who are being held by pirates.
She was speaking after meeting her Somali counterpart, Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, in Pretoria on Tuesday.
"The continuing instability in other parts of Somalia sadly provides fertile ground for the scourge of piracy. South Africa is concerned about the threat posed by piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, especially by the extended range of the piracy threat into the Mozambican channel," she said, adding that Somali institutions needed to be strengthened to enable them to prosecute pirates.
Debbie Calitz and her partner Bruno Pelizzari were confronted by pirates off the Tanzanian coast in 2010, while en route to South Africa, and they remain in captivity.
Navies from around the world are currently patrolling Somalia’s seas and South Africa has indicated that it is now willing to play a military role to tackle to scourge.
-0- PANA CU/SEG 14Mar2012