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Ukraine asks West for help to free ship seized by pirates

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KIEV, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's Foreign Ministry appealed to Britain, France, the United States and NATO to help free a ship and its crew seized by pirates on October 18 near the coast of Somalia, a Ukrainian diplomat said Friday.

"The Ukrainian foreign ministry and ship owners are continuing negotiations to free the ship and return its Ukrainian crew home," the diplomat said.

Negotiations are being hindered by the ongoing fight between various groups in Somalia for control over the capital and southern regions of the country, he said.

"There are currently no active diplomatic or consulate offices in Somalia," he said.

The cargo ship Panagia, sailing under the Liberian flag and carrying a 22-member Ukrainian crew, was hijacked this week 90 miles off the eastern coast of Somalia by Somali pirates while transporting coal from South Africa to Turkey.

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