The seven countries are members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, launched in 1994; this was the first meeting between NATO and the Mediterranean Dialogue countries at the level of Defence Ministers.
A political signal
“The fact that the meeting took place … is a political signal in itself, that NATO and Mediterranean Dialogue partners are on the course of reinforcing … practical cooperation,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after the meeting.
Ministers discussed a range of areas in which they are looking to expand cooperation, including defence reform, training and cooperation in responding to natural and man-made disasters.
The Secretary General stressed that public diplomacy was a key part of this cooperation, saying that NATO had to work on its image in the region to shake lingering stereotypes.