Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The naval and air forces of Israel, Turkey and the United States will stage joint search and rescue exercises in late August south of the Turkish coast, the Israeli army announced yesterday.
Ten ships, four helicopters and four search and rescue aircraft from the three countries will take part in the "Reliant Mermaid VIII" exercise in international waters in the Mediterranean, south of the Turkish coast, it said.
"The objective of this exercise is to practice coordinated emergency search and rescue procedures and measures for safety of life at sea," a spokesman said in a statement.
"By enhancing their inter-operability, cooperation and coordination levels during the exercise, elements of the three naval and air forces will be able to respond more efficiently and rapidly to potential maritime emergencies as well as to humanitarian assistances in the future," it said.
Israel has close diplomatic ties with Turkey � one of the few Muslim countries with which it has relations and a key ally of the Jewish state since 1996 when the two countries signed a military cooperation deal, much to the anger of Arab countries and Iran.