BRUSSELS, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands has offered to next year take command of the new European Union (EU) mission that will fight piracy off the Somali coast, the Dutch daily De Volkskrant reported Tuesday.
Mission Atlanta is due to start next month and the Dutch offered to take command in August 2009 at a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers Monday in Brussels, the report said.
Dutch Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop, who said the move requires his government's official endorsement, said he needs to know the exact mandate of the mission and whether it would involve escorting food deliveries or active combat.
Pieter Bindt, commander of the Dutch maritime forces, would head the mission from the Dutch frigate Evertsen, which has already been on patrol along the 3,000-kilometer coastline of Somalia.
The combined fleet, which will consist of up to 10 ships with air cover, will be the EU's first maritime mission. The United Nations is currently protecting food transports in the region.