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Nine countries sign deal to combat pirates

DJIBOUTI , Djibouti, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Nine countries in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea region announced plans to cooperate on countering the threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Efthimios Mitropoulos, U.N. International Maritime Organization secretary-general, said nine Indian Ocean and Red Sea countries have agreed to a Code of Conduct deal designed to strengthen cooperation on combating an escalation of piracy in the region, the United Nations reported.

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The countries -- Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen -- attended a four-day meeting in Djibouti, where they agreed to collectively begin patrolling the volatile Gulf of Aden with ships or aircraft.

"The adoption of this instrument shows that countries in the region are willing to act concertedly and together, contributing to the ongoing efforts of the broader international community to fight the scourge of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the area," Mitropoulos said in a statement.

The establishment of the Code of Conduct agreement adds to a growing international effort to bring security to the waters off Somalia's coast. NATO, the European Union and a multinational combined joint task force that includes naval ships from the United States, among others, already have deployed to the region.

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