Obama welcomes French decision to rejoin NATO command

March 22nd, 2009 - 5:36 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, March 22 (DPA) US President Barack Obama Saturday welcomed France’s decision to return to NATO’s military command after a 43-year absence, saying France’s “full participation … will contribute to a stronger alliance and a stronger Europe.”
“I enthusiastically welcome the decision made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to fully reintegrate France into the NATO alliance,” Obama said in a statement.

“President Sarkozy’s leadership has been essential and is much appreciated. France is a founding member of NATO and has been a strong contributor to NATO missions throughout the alliance’s history.”

Obama will make his first trip to Europe next month, stopping first in London for the G20 summit on April 2 before heading to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference April 3-4 in the French and German border towns of Strasbourg and Kehl.

Obama said the NATO alliance “has been the cornerstone of trans-Atlantic security for the past 60 years. The United States is committed to its success, and knows that it is through close cooperation with allies and partners that we can overcome our most difficult challenges.”

Lawmakers in the French National Assembly voted late Tuesday in favour of a measure that effectively approved Sarkozy’s decision to return France to NATO’s military command structure.

By a vote of 329 to 238, the deputies passed a vote of confidence in the foreign policy conducted by Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his government, including the decision to return to full NATO membership.

In 1966, then-president Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of the alliance’s military command and evicted US bases from French soil.

Tuesday’s vote in favour of the government was a foregone conclusion, because Sarkozy’s UMP party and its centre-right allies hold a substantial majority in the National Assembly.

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