Wednesday, August 17, 2005

US ups cash for Strait patrol

The US government plans to spend $18 million next year on helping Morocco patrol the Strait of Gibraltar.

The funds have been requested as part of the Foreign Military Financing program for 2006, which foresees worldwide spending of $4.6 billion.

According to the US State Department, “the program is a key element of coalition building, critical to enhancing the capabilities of friends and allies on whom we depend in multilateral coalitions and operations.”

It adds that the $18 million will be used “to enhance Morocco’s capacity to patrol its northern coast and the Strait of Gibraltar.”

The strait is a vital chokepoint for maritime trade and security here has been tight ever since Moroccan authorities arrested an al Qaeda cell preparing to target ships three years ago.

Western merchant ships are regularly escorted through the strait by navy flotillas operating under the auspices of NATO Operation Active Endeavour.


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