"Israel is not a member of NATO but is a partner of NATO. We share the same values of peace and security and we also share the same threats."
President Shimon Peres, today (Thursday (March 7, 2013)), at NATO headquarters in Brussels, held a working meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The two discussed the importance of strengthening the strategic cooperation between Israel and NATO in the security and technology fields.
President Peres briefed the NATO Secretary General on the strategic threats is facing in the Middle East with a focus on the threat of a nuclear Iran and Hezbollah. At the beginning of the meeting President Peres stressed Israel's concern regarding the situation on Israel's northern border and said, "We are monitoring the ongoing attempts to build up weapons by Hezbollah which is stockpiling weapons and missiles for terrorism and war. Hezbollah is sowing destruction in Lebanon and must be seen as a terrorist organization in every way."
The two agreed during their discussions that Israel and NATO are partners in the fight against terror and the search for peace and they discussed ways to maintain security in the Middle East and the world. President Peres stressed the need to maintain and increase the cooperation between Israel and NATO and Israel's ability to cooperation and provide technological assistance and knowledge from the vast experience Israel had gained in the field of counter-terrorism, "Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan."
Following the meeting the two delivered joint statements to the press and Secretary-General Rasmussen said, "Mr President, let me warmly welcome you on your visit to NATO headquarters. You have served your country for over sixty years. You won the Nobel Peace Prize for your role in the Oslo Accords. And you are a staunch proponent of peace and cooperation in the Middle East. Along with six Arab countries, Israel is an important partner of the Alliance in the Mediterranean Dialogue. The security of NATO is linked to the security and stability of the Mediterranean and of the Middle East region. And our Alliance attaches great value to our political dialogue and our practical cooperation. Israel is one of our longest-standing partner countries. We are faced with the same strategic challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean. And as we face the security threats of the 21st century, we have every reason to deepen our long-standing partnership with our Mediterranean Dialogue countries, including Israel. We all know the regional situation is complex. But the Mediterranean Dialogue remains a unique multilateral forum, where Israel and six Arab countries can discuss together with European and North American countries common security challenges. I see further opportunities for deepening our already close political dialogue and practical cooperation to our mutual benefit."
President Peres thanked him and said, "Israel is not a member of NATO but is a partner of NATO. We share the same values of peace and security and we also share the same threats. Terrorism today affects the entire world. I congratulate you for all that you are doing as Secretary-General of NATO."
Earlier in the day President Peres met with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, where the threat of Iran was also discussed, "Iran is not just a threat to Israel but to the entire world. The coalition being led by the United States of America and Europe to prevent Iran is using economic sanctions which are preferable to the military option. The sanctions have achieved more than was expected but have yet to achieve their aims - and so we must continue and ensure Iran does not become nuclear armed. Iran is threatening the world not only because of its pursuit of nuclear weapons but also with its blatant disregard for human rights and the killing of innocent people. Protecting human rights is not just for our children but also for the wellbeing of Iranians." On Hezbollah President Peres said, "Hezbollah must be brought to justice before they kill more people. We must stop them from building their terror infrastructure across Europe."
Jose Manuel Barroso said to President Peres, "The European Union is conducting a huge international effort on the Iranian issue - even at an economic cost which is being paid by some of our member states due to the economic sanctions."
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