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U.S. forces in the Mediterranean Sea are training with four other countries to combat the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

About 350 Americans are participating in Clever Sentinel 04. Forces include a P-3C surveillance aircraft operating out of Sigonella, Sicily; the Norfolk, Va.-based destroyer USS Gonzalez; and the Military Sealift Command’s container ship Pfc. Eugene A. Obregon.

“The basic scenario is participating naval forces will intercept, escort and perform a compliant boarding of a vessel at sea,” said Lt. j.g. Dave Luckett, a 6th Fleet spokesman. “The overall objective is working on communications and techniques with the other countries involved.”

Clever Sentinel 04 is one of 10 multinational maritime interdiction exercises that began last year as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative. Under the initiative, which President Bush launched in May, countries can disrupt the illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction by searching ships and aircraft suspected of carrying suspicious cargo.

Italy is leading Clever Sentinel, which began Monday and ends Thursday. France, Spain and the Netherlands also each are contributing a ship. About a dozen nations sent observers.

Participants in the initiative include Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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