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France return to NATO does not risk independence: minister

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 2, 2009
French Defense Minister Herve Morin said on Monday that Paris could reform its ties with the NATO alliance without sacrificing the country's independence.

"The view of the president of the Republic, and that is also my view, is that France can renovate its relations with NATO" but while remaining "an independent and free ally of the United States, an independence that is not negotiable or disputable," Morin said in remarks to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to announce France's return to the NATO command structure at a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in April.

The full return to NATO would reverse Charles de Gaulle's decision in 1966 to walk out in protest at US domination.

The United States has agreed to give the French military the lead over two major NATO commands -- the Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, and a regional command headquarters in Lisbon -- if Paris reintegrates.

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British PM set for key White House talks
Washington (AFP) March 2, 2009
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in Washington late Monday for key talks with US President Barack Obama, as the plummeting economy and the Afghanistan conflict looked set to top the agenda.

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