NATO chief says strong ties with the UAE are vital to international security

ABU DHABI // The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Jens Stoltenberg, has said stronger cooperation with the Arab Gulf states, including the UAE, contributes to better international security.

He said the 28-member military alliance and the regional states are facing common threats and enemies.

“We have worked and cooperated with the UAE for many decades. The UAE and other Arab Gulf nations are highly valued partners of NATO,” the Mr Stoltenberg said in an interview with state news agency, Wam.

“We are cooperating with the Gulf Arab states in various ways including the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, a framework for political dialogue and cooperation between NATO and several Gulf states.

“The UAE has worked with NATO and participated in the alliance’s operations in Bosnia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. We have a history of cooperation and we like to build on that and move into the future together,” he said.

He explained that the need for more cooperation has increased because “we face the same security environment, especially with the threats posed for all of us by ISIL group”.

He said he appreciated the opportunity to visit the UAE and to meet with its officials and discuss ways of strengthening cooperation.

“We will look into how we can work more closely on exercises, learn how can our forces can work more closely together. We also are looking into how we can cooperate when it comes to both political and practical cooperation in many different fields,” the NATO chief said.

In 2012, the UAE became the first and only country in the Middle East or North Africa to open a mission to NATO. The UAE has held joint consultations and exercises with NATO in numerous areas, including maritime security, counter-piracy, proliferation and energy security.

Mr Stoltenberg noted NATO signed an agreement with the UAE on exchange of information several years ago as part of that cooperation.

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