NATO says a meeting of senior officers from navies involved in anti-piracy patrols off Somalia achieved "real progress" in forging closer co-operation in the joint effort.

The meeting held in Beijing, brought together commanders from the U.S. and its NATO allies, the European Union as well as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Japan and other countries involved in the martime patrols.

NATO says all participants called for greater sharing of information on pirate activities. Chinese representatives also expressed willingness to change their activities in the Gulf of Aden from independent escorts of merchant ships to the more joint patrols.

The past 18 months have seen a significant increase in piracy off Somalia. Ships ranging from small yachts to large oil tankers have been targeted.