GLASGOW strengthened its relationship with the Middle East yesterday by signing a twinning agreement with Bethlehem, in the West Bank.

Deputy Lord Provost Baillie Christine Devine welcomed the Mayor of Bethlehem, Viktor Baterseh, to the City Chambers for the official ceremony and to meet council officers and business leaders.

The two cities had signed a friendship agreement in 1990 which reflected circumstances in Palestinian areas at that time. Now, the council have voted to formalise its current links into a full town twinning. Baillie Devine said: "Glasgow and Bethlehem have a friendship going back many years. This agreement will deepen and strengthen those links."

Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland yesterday announced that, despite difficulties in the region, one of its properties in the Middle East, the Scots Hotel in Tiberias, has had a huge increase in national and international visitors.

The establishment recently received an award from the Israeli hotel industry which recognises it as one of the best in the region.