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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 March, 2004, 01:16 GMT
US pushes Nato role for Mid-East
Marc Grossman
Grossman visited Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Bahrain
A senior US official has said Nato should play a more important role to promote reform in the Middle East.

Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman said Nato could offer security, disaster relief and help in combating the flow of illegal drugs and weapons.

He briefed Nato envoys in Brussels after a tour of the region during which the US vision of reform to bring peace came under criticism.

President Bush's Mid-East initiative is to be raised at summits this summer.

"Nato is going to be part of this conversation about change in the Middle East and Nato has something very important to offer," Mr Grossman told a news conference.

"It's very clear that this issue - how to support reform in the area - is... on everybody's agenda."

Mr Grossman stressed that the Bush administration's reform initiative for the "greater Middle East" - which has been defined as stretching from Morocco to Pakistan - was not meant to replace the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

However, during Mr Grossman's visit to Cairo on Tuesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher insisted any reform must await a peace settlement there.

The reform initiative is expected to be discussed in June at a G8 summit in the US and at subsequent US-EU and Nato summits in Europe.

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