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Greece enters into ‘strategic alliance’ with Israel

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — Greece has reported forming a strategic alliance with
Israel.

Officials said Athens and Jerusalem launched strategic cooperation
over the last year. They said the cooperation included military exercises,
strategic dialogue and intelligence exchanges on regional threats.

Greece, Israel and the U.S. participated in the Noble Dina exercise which ended on April 5.

“This is a strategic alliance,” Greek Defense Minister Dimitris
Avramopoulos said.

During a visit to the United States in April, Avramopoulos briefed American Jewish leaders and Congress of Greece’s new relationship with the Jewish state. In meetings and interviews, the defense minister praised the increase in defense and other cooperation between Greece and Israel.

“We value his commitment to strengthening Greek-U.S. and Greek-Israeli defense cooperation, as befits these three democratic nations,” David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said after meeting Avramopoulos.

On April 5, Greece, Israel and the United States concluded their first trilateral naval exercise. Called Noble Dina, the three countries contributed warships and aircraft for joint missions over the eastern Mediterranean, including the coast of Israel.

Officials said Avramopoulos sought U.S. help to enhance regional
cooperation that would include Israel. They said Greece wanted to ensure the
safety of energy exploration projects in the eastern Mediterranean,
particularly off the coast of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey, asserting the
exploration violated its sovereignty, has sent warships to disrupt the
projects.

Greece has also supported the U.S. Navy presence in Crete for operations
by the Sixth Fleet. Officials said Avramopolous urged Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta to support Greek efforts to maintain its military amid the nation’s
economic crisis.

“He [Panetta] also thanked Greece for supporting international efforts
on Libya, Iran and Syria,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said on April 3.

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