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NATO Parliamentary Assembly seminar in Abu Dhabi calls for stronger inter-cultural dialogue and cooperation

posted on 11/10/2008: 2687 views

The two-day NATO Parliamentary Seminar on The Middle East and Global Challenges concluded yesterday its discussion forums in Abu Dhabi urging for greater inter-regional co-operation and dialogue to address concerns facing the region.

Seminar participants agreed that additional work was still needed to reach greater awareness of the Istanbul Co-operation Initiative, which was launched at the 2004 NATO summit to build genuine partnerships between NATO nations and selected countries in the Middle East.

More than 50 Parliamentarians from 15 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) nations and legislators from Middle Eastern and North African countries attended the seminar, and took part in debates on key issues affecting the Middle East and NATO nations.

Micheal Gaul, Deputy Director, Defence Security Economics Directorate, Political Affairs and Security Policy Decision, NATO HQ; and Scott Ritter, former Chief UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq outlined the security dimensions of Iran's role in the region. Abdullah Al Shayji, Professor of International relations, Kuwait University, addressed the first session this morning and outlined the obstacles facing NATO in the region.

Three differing perspectives dominated their addresses, which focused on NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and security perceptions in the Gulf region.

Both Ritter and Professor Al Shayji advised more clarity in NATO's policies in the region, if the Alliance wished to contribute to easing tensions and increase cooperation in the Middle East. They also expressed the need for more public awareness about the role of NATO and its Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

"It has been a very positive experience hosting this seminar in Abu Dhabi. The countries in the Middle East share several common interests with the NATO nations, and through sustained cooperation and consultation we will further develop this relation to create better solutions for the problems in the region", said HE Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs.

The seminar, which is part of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group's activities, was held in coordination with the UAE Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group, provides a forum for parliamentarians from NATO member countries and their counterparts in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa to discuss common security and political issues. The UAE Ministry of Federal National Council Affairs has a mandate to promote political awareness in the region. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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