The MV Faina -- the highest-profile of a dozen ships being held off Somalia -- was captured in September with its 20-man crew and a cargo of Soviet-era T-72 tanks plus other weapons.
"The negotiations between us and the owners of the ship are in the final phase. We are about to agree $3 million, then we will release the ship, probably after four days," pirate Aden Gelle told Reuters from Haradheere port.
"We are hopeful of wrapping up the affair of this ship as soon as possible," added Gelle, who said he had come ashore from the Faina for a rest. The seizure of the Faina drew international attention, not only for its dramatic military cargo, but for a regional row over the destination of the tanks.
Kenya said it had bought them for its army, but foreign diplomats said the arms were bound for south Sudan -- a potential embarrassment to Nairobi which brokered a peace pact there.
Fahran Muse, a self-styled spokesman for the gang holding the Faina, also said talks were at an advanced stage.
"The negotiations are going on now and may be completed within several days, probably four," he said.
"The owners of the ship make good contacts with us every day." More than 20 warships from 14 nations are patrolling to try and stop the gangs.
Piracy has raised insurance costs and prompted some ship owners to go round South Africa instead of via the Suez Canal.
ReutersLast Mod: 02 Şubat 2009, 11:59