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Top American officials from Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa have helped kick off a maritime security conference bringing together representatives from East African and West Indian Ocean countries that rely on seaborne trade.

The conference is being hosted by the U.S. Embassy and the government of Madagascar, and includes representatives from Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, France, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Great Britain.

The main challenges being discussed by officials include piracy, terrorism, smuggling and illegal fishing. All of those issues are intertwined, officials said.

Potential solutions include: information sharing; national laws and policies permitting cooperation between authorities; inter-agency cooperation; and standardization of maritime laws and boundaries.

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