(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA))
BRUSSELS, Oct 12 (KUNA) - NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana has expressed his high appreciation for the partnership with Kuwait and for Kuwait's role in developing partnership between the Alliance and Gulf countries.
"We highly appreciate our partnership with Kuwait. We highly appreciate our partnership with the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partners," he told KUNA after a luncheon meeting hosted by Kuwait's ambassador to NATO, EU and Belgium, Jasem Al Budaiwi.
"NATO stands ready to continue to engage with each and every one of our partners in the Gulf region because the international situation requires our cooperation because the risk to our common security are still abundant and because there is no substitute for cooperation and exchange of information," he said.
Geoana, a former foreign minister of Romania, thanked Al-Budaiwi for convening the luncheon with ambassadors from the Gulf region.
He also thanked Kuwait for hosting the ICI regional center in Kuwait, describing it as "a center of superb expertise."
"We are grateful that the physical training and courses have resumed and we are ready to enrich further the curricula in this very important center for representative from the Gulf region who will be attending the training and courses," said the top NATO official.
"So we highly appreciates the role of Kuwait in keeping all of us in a very close partnership," he stressed.
On his part, Jasem Al-Budaiwi told KUNA that the luncheon is to be seen within the efforts that Kuwait's mission to the 30-member alliance does in order to connect all ICI countries and GCC countries with NATO officials.
"It is very important and very useful meeting as the last time we met as ICI-GCC countries on the level of high ranking officials was in December 2019 in Kuwait when Kuwait hosted the 15th anniversary of the establishment of ICI," he said.
Al-Budaiwi said the luncheon meeting discussed important issues relating to cooperation between NATO and the ICI member and GCC countries as well as regional political and security issues.
"NATO is a very important organization for us as four of the GCC countries are partners and two are working closely with it. It is a very important international organization that works towards maintaining peace and security," he stressed.
"We are very glad that on October 6 the first in-person activity happened in the Centre after the pandemic situation," he said, adding "we look forward to enhancing our relations."
NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) was launched at the Alliance's Summit in the Turkish city in June 2004.
It aims to contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering countries of the Gulf practical and bilateral cooperation with NATO. Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE are members of the ICI.
In January 2017, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative Regional Centre in Kuwait.
The 6-member GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. (end)
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