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The Hamilton Spectator
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Thursday November 20, 2008
Senior officials from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen are meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

It comes amid a report that pirates who hijacked a Saudi oil tanker on Saturday are demanding a $25m (17m) ransom.

However, the Sirius Star's owners, who are negotiating with the pirates, have cast doubt on that figure. The Sirius Star, the biggest tanker ever hijacked, is carrying a cargo of 2m barrels - a quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily output - worth more than $100m.

It is now anchored off the Somali coast with around 25 crew members being held as hostages.

A pirate on board the vessel calling himself Mohamed Said was quoted by news agency AFP as saying that the Saudi owners, Vela International, had been set a 10-day deadline to hand over a $25m ransom.

BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner says the owners are effectively denying that figure, while the industry is expecting the demand to be higher.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, Hossam Zaki, was quoted by Egypt's official Mena news agency as saying that "all options are open" in trying to solve the crisis. More...

Crisis meeting over Somali piracy
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