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NATO: Middle East must increase ability to defend itself

May 28, 2015 at 10:24 am

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg yesterday called for increasing the ability of Middle Eastern countries to enable them to defend themselves, the Anadolu Agency reported.

In a meeting with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Stoltenberg said that the NATO “supports countries in the region to increase their ability to defend themselves, to create stability.”

He added: “And the aim is to be able to project stability without always deploying large number of forces.”

Explaining NATO’s efforts in the region, he said: “We have increased our support for Jordan. We are in the process of developing defence capacity-building for Iraq. And we stand ready to do so also in Libya when the situation on the ground allows.”

Regarding the Islamic State (ISIS), he said: “And we are working closely with NATO allies to make sure that we are partnering with other countries to address issues of counterterrorism; making sure that we continue to coordinate effectively in the fight against ISIL,” referring to the group using their other acronym.

Stoltenberg said: “All 28 NATO members are members of the coalition to support the Iraqi government against the ISIL fight; to address the challenges that exist in Libya.”

He reiterated that all NATO members are concerned about the “spill-over effects of a chaotic situation there [Middle East].”

He hinted that there is a chance that NATO may cooperate with countries who are not NATO members.

“That means increased defence capacity-building with other countries like Iraq or GCC countries that are interested in working with us, as well as the African Union,” he said.