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U.S., Seychelles sign maritime protection agreement

Representatives of the United States and Seychelles met at Port Louis, Seychelles, on Tuesday to sign a bilateral agreement to counter illicit maritime operations in the Indian Ocean. Photo courtesy of U.S. 6th Fleet
Representatives of the United States and Seychelles met at Port Louis, Seychelles, on Tuesday to sign a bilateral agreement to counter illicit maritime operations in the Indian Ocean. Photo courtesy of U.S. 6th Fleet

July 28 (UPI) -- A maritime governance agreement between the United States and Seychelles will preserve ecosystems and prevent crimes at sea, a U.S. 6th Fleet statement says.

The agreement, titled Countering Illicit Transnational Maritime Activity Operations and signed on Tuesday, is the first bilateral maritime pact between the United States and the East African country.

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Seychelles is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa.

The agreement will allow the two countries to "strengthen their shared maritime governance by better detecting, deterring, and suppressing illicit transnational maritime activities," the statement noted.

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It also referred to the relationship between Seychelles' People's Defense Force and the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard as a "close partnership," with the agreement reaffirming "the commitment by both governments to further strengthen cooperative law enforcement activities."

Seychelles will provide resources it has available, according to the agreement, while the United States will offer vessels, surveillance aircraft, equipment and personnel to strengthen policing within Seychelles' 540,000-square mile maritime Exclusive Economic Zone.

Signed by Thom Kohl, U.S. Embassy Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and Errol Fonseka, Seychelles Minister for Internal Affairs, at a meeting in Port Louis, Seychelles, the agreement is an element of Exercise Cutlass 2021, an annual multinational maritime exercise in waters surrounding East Africa.

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The United States and 12 African countries are involved in the training to help national navies disrupt illicit maritime activity -- including piracy, arms trafficking, human smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal trade in wildlife -- and to strengthen safety and security in East Africa.

"We have always recognized Seychelles as one of the most active and willing maritime security partners in this region, but we know, too, that neither the United States nor Seychelles can assure regional peace alone," Kohl said." We acknowledge that only together can the threats of our time be defeated."

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