NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen discussed ways to deepen cooperation with Qatar at a bilateral meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. A NATO statement released today said Rasmussen thanked Qatar for its crucial role in the successful NATO-led operation to protect the people of Libya last year. He made clear that NATO shares an interest in the stability and security of the region, and remains committed to strengthening the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partnership. The NATO chief and the Emir of Qatar exchanged views on recent developments in the region, it added. The ICI which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE was launched at a NATO summit in the Turkish city in 2004. It offers countries of the broader Middle East region practical bilateral security cooperation with NATO.