Israel, US and Greece launch joint naval exercise
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoIsraeli, Greek and US warships began a joint two-week Mediterranean naval exercise codenamed "Noble Dina" on Thursday, the Israeli military said.
"Noble Dina, one of the navy's scheduled annual exercises, is part of the security cooperation between the Israeli navy and foreign naval forces," a statement said. Israel's military sees it "as an opportunity for mutual learning and for strengthening of the cooperation with its allies." For several years, Israel and the US carried out naval manoeuvres with Turkey, but in September 2011 Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador and suspended military cooperation with the Jewish state.
Once-warm ties had reached a low point after Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla in the Mediterranean in May 2010, killing nine Turks on board.
Relations with traditionally pro-Arab Greece have been warming in the meantime, with Israel joining it in naval and air exercises.
Athens is keenly interested in Israel's economic rapprochement with traditional Greek ally Cyprus to develop offshore gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. Media said of last year's Noble Dina's exercise that it was designed in part to practice defending offshore gas rigs.
In November, Israeli and US troops concluded a major missile defence exercise lasting more than three weeks and involving 3,500 personnel from the US European Command and 1,000 Israeli troops.
Israeli military sources said their navy had recently carried out manoeuvres with the Italian and Canadian navies, but did not elaborate.