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FBI, Navy Join Negotiations for Pirates to Release Captain

After Wednesday's hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship, pirates continued to hold Capt. Richard Phillips hostage in a lifeboat adrift in the Indian Ocean. A Financial Times correspondent talks about the negotiations, including Navy and FBI involvement.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Our lead story: The American captain of a cargo ship remained a hostage of Somali pirates today, adrift on a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean.

    The U.S. Navy and FBI worked to secure his release. And General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, announced plans to immediately increase American military presence in the Horn of Africa.

    Margaret Warner has our report.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The U.S. Navy said it had called on FBI hostage negotiators today to help free the captain of the freighter Maersk Alabama.

    The U.S.-flagged ship, based in Norfolk, Virginia, was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia yesterday. Hours later, the 20 American crewmen overpowered the bandits.

    But their captain, 53-year-old Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vermont, is being held hostage by four pirates in a small lifeboat.

    A Navy destroyer, USS Bainbridge, is watching nearby. So are U.S. surveillance aircraft. The Maersk Alabama is now reported to be en route to Mombasa, Kenya.

    At the State Department this morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about the standoff at the lifeboat.

    HILLARY CLINTON, Secretary of State: We are watching this very closely. Apparently, the lifeboat has run out of gas, and the Navy is there, right, Admiral?

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke later, after he and Secretary Clinton met with their Australian counterparts.

    ROBERT GATES, Secretary of Defense: We are monitoring the situation, obviously, very closely. The safe return of the captain is the top priority. We obviously have a naval presence in the area and other assets. And we are obviously looking at our options, but, again, foremost in our minds is the safety of the captain.

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