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PM: No impunity for Somali pirates

David Cameron has vowed there would be "no impunity" for Somali pirates as international leaders agreed to tighten the net on the sea raiders menacing international shipping .

Britain signed a series of memoranda which will enable pirates captured by Royal Navy warships to be put on trial in countries in the region.

The London conference on Somalia, attended by representatives of more than 50 countries and international organisations, also agreed to set up a taskforce to look at ways of eliminating ransom payments to the pirates who demand large sums for the release of ships and crews they seize.

The agreements come after Britain announced earlier this week that it was financing the construction of a new £550,000 anti-piracy intelligence centre in the Seychelles to coordinate evidence gathering for use in bringing prosecutions.

"Just as there will be no impunity for pirates, there will be no impunity for those who fund them either because of our new centre for coordinating intelligence and pursuing the kingpins of piracy," Mr Cameron told the closing news conference.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary William Hague signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tanzanian foreign minister Bernard Membe allowing the Royal Navy to transfer suspected pirates to the east African state for prosecution. He also signed a statement of intent with the Mauritian foreign minister Arvin Boolell to conclude a similar memorandum of understanding by June.

Although the agreements only cover pirates held by the Royal Navy, officials said it was a indication of intent on the part of countries in the region.

Mr Cameron said the "ultimate ambition" was to end ransom payments and "stop this crime from paying".

The racket has become highly lucrative. Over the past five years it is estimated that pirates have collected more than 250 million dollars (£160 million) - with payouts now averaging 5 million dollars (£3 million).

The conference, held at Lancaster House, was called by Mr Cameron to try to focus international attention on a country blighted by two decades of chaos, violence and famine and is seen as the new breeding ground for international terrorism. The final communique agreed the need to disrupt the financing and travel of terrorists and to maintain the military pressure on the extremist al Shabaab.

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