US President Barack Obama (left) talks with national security advisor Tom Donilon during the North Atlantic Council meeting in Lisbon, as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit of Heads of States and Government held in Portugal's capital. Image Credit: AFP

Lisbon: Nato's new strategic concept, its action plan for the next ten years, reflects the importance of the alliance partnership with the Gulf and Mediterranean regions, Nato sources said. 

"The part on partnerships clearly mentions the will of Nato to deepen the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, while maintaining both partnerships open to the inclusion of new members from the region," the sources who did not wish to be named said in Lisbon where Nato is holding its summit.

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Nato in 2004 launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) to strengthen ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council amid concerns that increasingly global threats required robust partnerships with various groups and countries.

Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE have joined the initiative and forged closer relations with the 28-member alliance.

According to the sources, the new strategic concept emphasises collective defence and deterrence, crisis management and the promotion of international security and stability.

"Nato in Lisbon is undertaking, for the third time since the end of the Cold War, a major revision of Nato's Strategic Concept to define Nato's vision for the next decade," the sources said.

The Strategic Concept was for the first time revised and made public with the end of the Cold War at the Rome Summit in November 1991 . It was reviewed a second time and made public at the April 1999 Washington Summit.

The third review endorsed in Lisbon on Friday is considered "the most inclusive policy formulation process in Nato's history."

The review was made through preparatory seminars led by the Group of Experts appointed by Nato's secretary general and led by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and took place between July 2009 and May 2010, the sources said.

"It involved officials, opinion makers, academics, parliamentarians, as well as the broader public, in an open and transparent way, which has also included the contribution of ideas of MD and ICI partner countries in the form of papers by government authorities and academics," the sources said. "The group of experts also met at Nato headquarters with representatives of Mediterranean countries and once with the four ICI countries plus the ambassador of Saudi Arabia."

The report was presented to Nato in May and made public immediately.

"The Nato secretary general subsequently invited the ambassadors of the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries and the ambassadors of the four countries members of the ICI to present their contribution of ideas on the new strategic concept," the sources said.

"The final draft was presented in September to the North Atlantic Council and allied governments began working on the document."