Winds of change blowing in West Asia and Africa: PM

The Prime Minister's comment comes at a time when countries like Egypt, Libya and Yemen have witnessed mass uprisings against their rulers.

NATO forces have already undertaken military action in Libya, where a civil war-like situation prevails, with Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi facing a revolt in his country.

India has called for an end to the conflict in Libya and has spoken against the international military action. At the UN Security Council, India abstained from voting when the Libya resolution was put to vote.

"The winds of change are blowing in West Asia and North Africa. We believe it is the right of all peoples to determine their own destiny and choose their own path of development," he said while addressing the Joint Session of the two Houses of the Parliament of Ethiopia.
He added, "International actions must be based on the rule of law and be strictly within the framework of United Nations Resolutions".

Singh who is on a tour to the African continent also said India supports the efforts of the African Union in bringing peace and stability to the region.

The Prime Minister also made a strong pitch to the UN to take the lead in evolving a comprehensive response to the threat of international piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia to ensure unhindered maritime trade.

Simultaneously, the international community should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia, he said.

Singh, who is the first-ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia, said as a littoral state of the Indian Ocean, India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African countries in this regard.

The Prime Minister received a standing ovation from a packed Parliament as he entered with his wife Gursharan Kaur.

"The Horn of Africa is today faced with threats from piracy and terrorism. International piracy in the Red sea and off the coat of Somalia has become a well-organised industry. It is important that the United Nations take the lead in developing a comprehensive and effective response to this threat," Singh said.

"We would all like the Indian Ocean to remain a secure link between Asia and Africa through which international maritime trade can take place unhindered," he said.
India has repeatedly voiced its serious concerns over the threats posed by Somali pirates since about 11 per cent of seafarers engaged by international shipping companies are Indian nationals, some of whom have been taken hostage.

There have been over 200 attacks, including about 70 successful hijackings and ransoms believed to exceed USD 50 million have been paid to the pirates for securing the release of hostages and ships

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