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Foreign relations of Malta

For the first several years of independence, Malta followed a policy of close cooperation with the United Kingdom and other NATO countries. This relationship changed with the election of the Mintoff Labor Party[?] government in June 1971. The NATO subheadquarters in Malta was closed at the request of the Labor Party government, and the U.S. 6th Fleet discontinued recreational visits to the country. After substantially increased financial contributions from several NATO countries (including the United States), British forces remained in Malta until 1979. Following their departure, the Labor government charted a new course of neutrality and became an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Malta is an active participant in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and the Council of Europe, OSCE, the Non-Aligned Movement, and various other international organizations. In these fora, Malta has frequently expressed its concern for the peace and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The Nationalist Party government is continuing a policy of neutrality and nonalignment but in a Western context. The government desires close relations with the United States and western Europe, with an emphasis on increased trade and private investment. In 1992, U.S. Navy ships started paying liberty calls again and currently do so a regular basis.

Malta has been actively negotiating membership with the European Union. Negotiations should be concluded by the first quarter of 2003 when it is expected that the government will hold a referendum on Malta's membership.

Disputes - international: Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration

Illicit drugs: minor transshipment point for hashish from North Africa to Western Europe

See also : Malta

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