Foreign Ministry lauds upgrade of ties with NATO

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
October 17, 2006 23:11

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday welcomed an upgrading of Israel's ties with NATO through a first-of-its-kind bilateral agreement. The new framework, approved Monday but still vague on details, should allow for closer cooperation in fighting terrorism, greater participation in joint exercises and more operational coordination. As a result of the agreement, Israel becomes the first member of the Mediterranean Dialogue - a group of non-NATO countries that includes a number of Arab states - to have a personalized accord with the alliance. "We're very pleased and satisfied," said Sammy Ravel, director of the Multilateral European Institutions division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "For us it's another step on the way to improve and tighten relations with NATO. Now we have to look forward to implementing the [new agreement] and moving past it." Labelled an Individual Cooperation Program, Ravel described the accord as a "specially tailored suit" in place of the options for working with NATO that any member of the Mediterranean Dialogue can "just take off the shelf." He said the top priority would be battling terror. Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia are also part of the Mediterranean group.


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