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Kerry suggests hot pursuit of pirates

John F. Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates but urges a cautious approach. John F. Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates but urges a cautious approach.
December 30, 2008
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WASHINGTON - As a young Navy swift boat commander in Vietnam, Senator John F. Kerry was no stranger to the perils of hot pursuit in combat.

He was awarded a Silver Star for beaching his boat after a rocket attack and racing ashore to chase down and kill a Viet Cong fighter armed with a rocket launcher.

Nearly 40 years later, as incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates in the waters off Somalia, but urges a cautious approach before US officials consider sending American forces to chase them ashore. Kerry plans committee hearings next year looking at the problems posed by piracy.

The Massachusetts Democrat said a hot pursuit policy on Somalia's coastline is "long overdue." But he warns against any "haphazard, sloppy" military missions.

"You gotta know what you're getting into and where you're going and under what circumstances," Kerry said in a recent telephone interview with the Associated Press. "I mean, if you send five police officers raging into the center of Mogadishu, you are asking for trouble. You gotta be smart."

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