NATO begins joint naval exercise off Croatia
ZAGREB (AFP) Sep 13, 2003
A joint naval exercise led by 14 NATO and partner countries began Saturday off Croatia's Adriatic coast.
The exercise, codenamed "Cooperative Engagement 2003," will continue until September 20, a defense ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
The exercise, focused on sea-rescue and anti-mine operations, began with 10 naval vessels entering the port of Split, in Croatia's southern Dalmatia region.
Taking part in the exercise will be some 500 troops, a dozen ships and five planes from NATO members Belgium, France, Greece and Italy, along with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, countries invited to join the alliance, partner countries Albania, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, as well as Egypt and Algeria.
Officials said the exercise was aimed at demonstrating NATO's capacity to integrate forces for partner countries in such operations. The Cooperative Engagement exercise takes place every two years.
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