NATO IDF 248.88.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
NATO pushed ahead Friday with plans to develop military training with Israel and six Arab nations as part of efforts to boost security cooperation.
"Terrorism, failed states and weapons of mass destruction proliferation are issues we all have to deal with," said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at a meeting of alliance defense ministers and counterparts from the seven North African and Middle Eastern nations.
Ministers agreed that a special training faculty at NATO's college in Rome should be opened for officers from the seven nations by the end of the year.
De Hoop Scheffer welcomed plans for some of the nations to join NATO's counter-terrorism patrols in the Mediterranean Sea and hold more joint exercises and intensified political contacts.
However, he insisted that the Western alliance has no plans to open bases in the region.
NATO has been seeking to deepen its 13-year outreach program with Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan, building on its experience helping nations from the former Soviet bloc modernize their military.
However, unlike NATO's "partnership for peace" program developed with former Warsaw Pact nations, the Mediterranean initiative does not hold out the prospect of eventual NATO membership.