Nato seeks no role in Iran issue

12/3/2005: Source ::: The Peninsula

DOHA: Nato does not seek or want to play a role in persuading Iran to shelve its nuclear programme nor in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The alliance also does not want to have a “heavy political footprint,” in the GCC region, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Nato Secretary-General, told the media on Thursday.

Scheffer was in Doha to attend the one-day Nato's Role in Gulf Security Conference. Speaking to the press, he said European Union members and Iran were engaged in diffusing the situation caused by Tehran's pursuit of uranium enrichment. “What is relevant is, there are consultations between the two sides, which can help find solutions," he added. Similarly, Nato, he said, was building relationships that could help solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Secretary General said that Nato was not in favour of a permanent political presence in the GCC region. However, Nato and GCC states such as Qatar could draw a sort of a menu listing various avenues where the two could cooperate such as in exchange of information about terrorist activities, disaster mitigation efforts, training for joint operations and others. Each country could select the sphere in which they wanted to cooperate with Nato, he added.

Earlier, in his keynote address during the opening session of the conference, Scheffer said the GCC, through cooperation with Nato, would be able to generate the strongest political momentum and military effectiveness to ensure better security. “Nato has a wealth of experience to offer to non-Nato countries. We have developed the necessary political and military links with non-Nato countries to make our cooperation very effective. That is why Nato is in a far better position to make a tangible contribution to security more widely, including Gulf security," he added.

He said Nato was looking at Gulf states since this region faces formidable security challenges and several countries in this area were targets of terrorist attacks. This region is also the immediate neighborhood of flashpoints of unresolved regional issues, proliferation risks and political and religious extremism, he noted.