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U.S. And Iran Face Common Foe At Sea

The United States believes that areas of common interest involving Iran and the U.S. could yield greater cooperation and understanding between the 2 countries, even as the U.S. continues to emphasize the importance of Iran fulfilling all its international obligations.

The stabilization of Afghanistan is one area where the U.S. and Iran share a common goal. Diminishing the scourge of drug trafficking is another. In both areas Iran and the U.S. have had some productive collaboration. Defending the Gulf of Aden from attacks by Somali pirates is a third such area.

In the past year, there have been more than 100 pirate attacks on commercial ships in the region. Iranian state T.V. said that an Iranian vessel was captured by pirates in March on a spurious charge of illegal fishing, and last November pirates hijacked a cargo ship operated by Iran.

In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Iran's Ambassador to the U.N. Mohammad Khazaei said the Iranian warships will assist in helping to safeguard maritime trade in the region by sending ships to the crucial water way.

The U.S. believes that working with international partners to enhance security on the high seas is the most effective way to oppose the destructive activity of the lawless bands of pirates that are having a negative impact on maritime safety, global commerce, humanitarian aid delivery to Eastern Africa, and regional trade and development.

Earlier this year, the United States took a leading role in establishing the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The group currently includes 28 countries and 6 international organizations – the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, the International Maritime Organization, NATO and the UN Secretariat. The Contact Group continues to grow, with several additional nations having since expressed interest in participating.

The U.S. also hopes to build upon new counter-piracy collaboration with non-traditional maritime security partners such as China, India and Russia. The contribution of Iran to the counter-piracy effort is welcome news.