NATO seeking to deepen relations with GCC members, considering joint center in region

Qatar Emiri Air Force jet fighter flying first Arab mission enforcing no-fly zone over Libya, March 25, 2011

From Gulf News:  A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) senior official has reiterated the alliance’s keenness to reinforce its cooperation and relations with individual members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), through the Istanbul Cooperation Inititiave (ICI).

He clarified that no decision on ideas circulating for the deepening ICI, such as for example a Nato-ICI centre in the region, have been taken.

"We do want to deepen our engagement with our Gulf partners, throught the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative," James Appathurai, Nato’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, said. . . .

Arab countries who have conttributed to Nato operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya have been invited by Nato to attend and "witness very frank and open discussions and how policies are shaped or endorsed," he said.

"Libya is a good illustration of what we can do together to promote international security and restore peace," he said. "There was invaluable understanding and remarkable interoperality between Nato and Arab partner countries who participated in the UN mandated and Nato-led operation in Libya. It was plug and play and Arab pilots were flying wing to wing with our airmen from Nato countries, to protect the civilian population of Libya," he said.  (photo: Getty)

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