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Military

05 March 2003

Text: U.S. Welcomes Expansion of NATO Naval Patrols in Mediterranean

(Boucher statement, NATO press release) (460)
The United States welcomes the March 3 decision by NATO to allow
Alliance naval forces to escort Allied non-combatant traveling through
the Straits of Gibraltar. This is an extension of Operation Active
Endeavor, which was started in October 2001 to monitor shipping in the
Eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
"The consensus to extend Operation Active Endeavour to the Western
Mediterranean strengthens NATO's counterterrorism capability, and
demonstrates NATO's firm commitment to meeting the threat of terrorism
from wherever it may come," said State Department Spokesman Richard
Boucher.
Following is the text of Boucher's statement and a NATO press release
announcing the decision:
(begin text)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman 
March 4, 2003
Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman
EXTENSION OF OPERATION ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR
The United States welcomes the March 3 decision by the 19 NATO Allies
to extend Operation Active Endeavour, which ensures safe passage of
non-combatant vessels through the Strait of Gibraltar. The consensus
to extend Operation Active Endeavour to the Western Mediterranean
strengthens NATO's counterterrorism capability, and demonstrates
NATO's firm commitment to meeting the threat of terrorism from
wherever it may come. Yesterday's decision authorizes NATO's Standing
Naval Forces to escort Allied non-combatant ships in transit through
the Strait of Gibraltar and to detect and respond to any threats that
arise.
Launched after the Allied invocation of Article 5 following the
September 11 attacks on the United States, Operation Active Endeavour
brought together NATO's air, surface, and sub-surface units to carry
out patrolling, surveillance, and monitoring in the Eastern
Mediterranean. The contributions of Active Endeavour to
intelligence-gathering and security and safety of non-combatant
shipping have been significant over the past 16 months.
(end Boucher statement)
(begin NATO press release)
NATO Press Release 
5 March 2003
STATEMENT BY THE NATO SPOKESMAN
This week NATO warships have taken on a new mission to escort Allied
civilian ships through the Straits of Gibraltar. The Alliance decided
to expand its naval operations in response to recent assessments of
terrorist threats to particular shipping lanes. This new mission is
part of NATO's continuing support for the campaign against terrorism,
and is a significant extension of the existing Operation Active
Endeavour, which was launched following the September 11 attacks on
the United States.
Under Operation Active Endeavour, NATO air and naval forces have been
carrying out patrolling and surveillance activities in the Eastern
Mediterranean. Apart from demonstrating NATO's resolve in the face of
terrorist threats, Operation Active Endeavour has already played a
significant role in enhancing security in the Eastern Mediterranean.
This new mission will help further safeguard the ships of NATO's
nations against the threat of terrorism.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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