SecGen says NATO no intention to intervene in Iran, Italy confirms hosting Israeli jets for international exercise

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, November 3, 2011

From Slobodan Lekic, the AP:  Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO supports political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear issue and urged Iran to comply with U.N. resolutions and stop its uranium enrichment programs.

"Let me stress that NATO has no intention whatsoever to intervene in Iran, and NATO is not engaged as an alliance in the Iran question," he said.

However, Fogh Rasmussen declined to comment on reports that Israeli air force jets conducted drills last week at a NATO air base in Italy. They were said to be practicing long-range sorties from the Decimomannu base on the Sardinia island and included combat aircraft, aerial refueling tankers and electronic warfare and control planes.

Later Thursday, Italian Defense Ministry spokesman Capt. Emiliano Biasco confirmed that an exercise involving Israel and other countries was held at Decimomannu in late October. He declined to give more details.

NATO cooperates closely with Israel as part of a group of friendly nations in the region, known as the Mediterranean Dialogue. Israeli warships have participated in exercises with NATO ships in the eastern Mediterranean.

Fogh Rasmussen visited the Jewish state earlier this year. (photo: NATO)

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