Addis Ababa: Noting the "winds of change" are blowing in West Asia and North Africa, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said people have the right to choose their destiny but advocated strict adherence to the United Nations framework while initiating any international action.

"The winds of change are blowing in West Asia and North Africa. We believe it is the right of all peoples to determine their own destiny and choose their own path of development," he said, while addressing the Joint Session of the two Houses of the Parliament of Ethiopia.

The Prime Minister's comment comes at a time when countries like Egypt, Libya and Yemen have witnessed mass uprisings against their rulers.

NATO forces have already undertaken military action in Libya, where a civil war-like situation prevails, with Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi facing a revolt in his country.

The Prime Minister said, "International actions must be based on the rule of law and be strictly within the framework of United Nations Resolutions."

India supports African Union for peace

Singh, who is on a tour to the African continent, said India supports the efforts of the African Union in bringing peace and stability to the region, while making a strong pitch to the UN to take the lead in evolving a comprehensive response to the
threat of international piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia to ensure unhindered maritime trade.

Simultaneously, the international community should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia, he said.

Singh, who is the first-ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Ethiopia, said as a littoral state of the Indian Ocean, India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African
countries in this regard.

Concern over Somali pirates

India has repeatedly voiced its serious concerns over the threats posed by Somali pirates since about 11 per cent of seafarers engaged by international shipping companies are Indian nationals, some of whom have been taken hostage.

There have been over 200 attacks, including about 70 successful hijackings and ransoms believed to exceed USD 50 million have been paid to the pirates for securing the release of hostages and ships.

Commenting on the emergence of new nation South Sudan in next few weeks, Singh said, "We hope it will contribute to peace and reconciliation among the people of Sudan."

Turning to changes in the structure of global bodies like United Nations and International monetary system, the Prime Minister said, "These are issues which have to be tackled and resolved."

Ethiopia enjoys long ties with India

In his address, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia and India enjoyed long standing cordialities on the basis of mutual respect and benefits for the peoples of the countries.

He said the threads of historical, cultural and political relationship have forged the two countries together.

Talking about greater cooperation between the two countries, Singh said India and Ethiopia must work to address the challenges of food security, energy security, health security, sustainable development and climate change.

(Agencies)