NATO seeks closer ties with Gulf, opens new center

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C-R) and Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah (C-L) attend the meeting between members of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and the Islamic Cooperation Initiative (ICI) at the NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Centre in Kuwait City on January 24, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2017
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NATO seeks closer ties with Gulf, opens new center

KUWAIT CITY: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday called for boosting security cooperation with the Gulf states as the Western military alliance opened its first office in the region.
“It will be a vital hub for cooperation between the alliance and our Gulf partners,” Stoltenberg said at the inauguration of the center in Kuwait in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah.
The center is based on the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), which was launched by the NATO leaders in 2004 and aims to boost security links with the Middle East, in particular Gulf Arab states.
Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are members of ICI while the remaining two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states — Saudi Arabia and Oman — plan to join.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said the region is facing serious challenges that require cooperation with international organizations.
“We face common security threats like terrorism, weapons proliferation, and cybertattacks. And we share the same aspirations for peace and for stability,” Stoltenberg said.
“So it is essential that we work more closely together than ever before. We have now developed individual cooperation programs with all our Gulf partners,” he said.
Stoltenberg said that over the past year, NATO has trained hundreds of Iraqi officers in Jordan to better fight the Islamic State jihadist group.
“We are now extending our training and capacity-building efforts into Iraq itself,” he said.
NATO continues to fight terrorism in other ways, including with direct support to the anti-IS coalition, he said.
The center will strengthen the military-to-military cooperation and the fight against terrorism and extremism, Stoltenberg said.
The center will help the Gulf states by providing advanced training courses on cyber security, energy security, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.


Boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon, most rescued

Updated 22 September 2018
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Boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon, most rescued

  • The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus
  • Most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned

BEIRUT: A boat with around three dozen Syrian refugees on board sank off the coast of Lebanon on Saturday and most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned, security sources said.
The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus, some 180 km (110 miles) away, when it foundered off the coast of northern Lebanon, the sources said. Three more of the people on boat were in a serious condition in hospital.
Lebanon is hosting around 1 million registered refugees from Syria’s civil war, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The Lebanese government puts the figure at around 1.5 million.