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Cambodia Prepares to Fight Maritime Pirates

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday announced the need to create a national plan for combating sea piracy within the next three months, urging a working group to quickly come up with a draft.

Cambodia, which has begun exploration for offshore oil, shares maritime borders with traditional military rivals Thailand and Vietnam.

The Chinese military recently donated 20 ships to the navy, which is currently incapable of dealing with the threat of piracy, officials said. In 2005, China provided six patrol boats to Cambodia and has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans in recent years.

Fishermen often complain the country’s sea borders are breeched by commercial vessels from the neighboring countries.

Hun Sen said in a speech Tuesday Cambodia had small maritime boundaries that were not plagued by piracy in the way the coast of Somalia is, but he said such problems should be prevented in advance.

A “sea security” team would have three months to submit a plan for a “national mechanism” for maritime security to the Council of Ministers for approval, Hun Sen said.

He urged the US and Australia to provide modern equipment to the navy to prevent acts of piracy.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said he welcomed improved maritime security, but he said the ruling government should concentrate on public and national security as well.