Somalia on Wednesday welcomed China's announcement that it was seriously considering sending naval ships to Somali waters to fight rampant piracy.
"As a friend of the Somali people and victim of the piracy menace," China can play a vital role in combating the scourge off Somali waters, said Somalia's Parliament Speaker Sheik Aden Madoobe.
"We welcome that China is considering sending its naval force to our coast to help us end the piracy problem," Madoobe told Xinhua in the southern town of Baidoa, the seat of the Somali parliament.
"We also appreciate other friendly countries who have already sent their warships to fight piracy, which is causing as much problems for Somalis as the rest of the world," he added.
Noting the "strong and historical ties" between Somalia and China, Madoobe said the Chinese government's move would further strengthen bilateral relations.
On Tuesday, China said it was "seriously considering sending naval ships" to the waters off the Somali coast for escort operations in the near future to fight against rampant piracy in the region.
China's announcement followed the UN Security Council's adoption of a resolution the same day to further step up the international fight against piracy.
An international naval force, currently deployed off Somalia, rescued a Chinese ship from nine Somali pirates Wednesday after the crew on the Chinese MV Zhen Hua-4 reportedly locked themselves in their cabins and radioed for help.
About 40 vessels have been hijacked this year off Somali waters, 15 of which along with some 300 crew members are still being held by the pirates who have demanded hefty ransoms for their release.
(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2008)