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Europe

France and Spain train their sights on Somali pirates

After French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's first-ever state visit to Spain, the two countries say they will extend their security cooperation. As a first step a conference on Somalia is to be proposed.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis odriguez Zapatero

These two men say they're getting serious about Somalia

Speaking after the bilateral summit in Madrid, Sarkozy and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said they would ask countries around the world to come together to discuss the problems created by lawlessness in the eastern African nation.

"We have agreed to propose the holding of an international conference on Somalia," Zapatero told reporters, adding that what the two leaders envisioned was a "wide response, not only on a security and military level, to piracy, which is afflicting both our countries and others."

Pirates from Somalia, which has been without an effective central government since 1991, are becoming an increasing problem in international waters. Somali pirates are currently holding at least 16 ships and more than 250 seamen hostage.

The leaders said they also agreed to step up their cooperation in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.

In addition, France and Spain will set up a new committee to combat illegal immigration, and Sarkozy said he supported Spanish government efforts to obtain a permanent seat at the G20 Group of leading and developing economic nations.

On the eve of the summit Sarkozy had already announced, "On all these issues, France and Spain speak with one voice."

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