NATO welcomes French plans to rejoin military command structure
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed Tuesday plans by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to have France rejoin the alliance's integrated military command.
"The secretary general welcomes the announcement by French President Sarkozy that there are no obstacles to France rejoining the integrated command," NATO spokesman James Appathurai told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"It is now up to France to determine exactly when and how it wishes to do so," the spokesman added.
In 1966, then French President Charles de Gaulle withdrew all of the country's armed forces from NATO's integrated military command.
That decision prompted the alliance's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) to be relocated from Paris to Mons, in Belgium.
Speaking in Paris earlier, Sarkozy confirmed his desire to see France become a full member of NATO again.
Sarkozy said his decision would boost Europe's influence within the transatlantic alliance.
"I want the alliance to be more European, and how can we have a more European alliance without France," Sarkozy said.
The president also called for the establishment of a European rapid intervention force of 60,000 soldiers.
Sarkozy has made European defence a priority of France's EU presidency, which begins on July 1.