Somali official: Pirates, ship owners negotiating

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- An official at Somalia's foreign ministry says negotiations are taking place between the Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian cargo ship laden with battle tanks and the ship's owners.

Mohamed Jama Ali, the ministry's acting permanent director, said Wednesday "there are talks between the owners of the ship and the pirates. But no other side is involved in negotiations."

The hijacking last week of the ship MV Faina -- carrying 33 Soviet-made T-72 tanks, rifles, and heavy weapons that U.S. defense officials have said included rocket launchers -- was the highest-profile act of piracy in the dangerous waters off Somalia this year.

The ship is now surrounded by U.S. warships that are not allowing the pirates to take the weapons off the ship.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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