UK pledged millions to lawless Somali region linked to pirate gangs: Wikileaks

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London, Feb 4 (ANI): Thousands of secret US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks have revealed that Britain had pledged millions of pounds worth support to leaders of a lawless region of Somalia, despite being aware of the fact that they had links to pirate gangs.

Foreign Office officials had surprised their US counterparts in July 2009 by announcing a "180-degree shift" in British policy towards the northeastern region of Puntland, whose leaders declared independence in 1998, The Telegraph reports.

The paper quoted the cables as saying that Jonathan Allen, the Foreign Office diplomat responsible for East Africa, told the Americans that the UK had planned to support the regional government despite being "under no illusion about who they were dealing with and the connection of the Puntland authorities to piracy".

The Foreign Office changed its policies following the meeting of Puntland President with officials in London in which he had "said all the right things" on issues like maritime security, Allen added.

The new policy of engagement was expanded in January 2010, when British diplomats disclosed that a portion of a nine million pounds grant for Somalia had been earmarked to support authorities in Puntland and Somaliland, another self-declared state, the paper said. (ANI)

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