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Arab countries meet to tackle Somali pirate threat

Egypt hosted Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia on Thursday in a bid to protect valuable maritime trade routes from pirates.

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This week's capture of a Saudi supertanker by Somali pirates sent a chill through international shipping and turned up the heat on politicians and businessmen across the region.

On Thursday, diplomats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia met in a closed-door meeting in Cairo to share their concerns over the possible effects of piracy on much-needed shipping and trade.

But government officials and independent analysts agree that, without efforts by North American, European, and Asian countries, there is little that the Arab states that border the Red Sea can do to defend their economic interests from the lawlessness leaking out of Somalia.

"To resolve the problem we are under no illusions that the Red Sea countries can solve a problem that exists outside the Red Sea," says Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

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