Nato - organisation could mark 60th birthday on France-Germany border:
NATO military alliance could hold a summit to mark its 60th anniversary on the Rhine River along the French-German border.
BRUSSELS, March 4, 2008 - The NATO military alliance could hold a
summit to mark its 60th anniversary on the Rhine River along the French-German
border, a NATO diplomat said Monday.
"Germany and France have agreed to propose that the summit be held in the
cities of Strasbourg and Kehl at the same time," the diplomat said.
Holding the summit in Strasbourg, the northeast city that is home to the
European Parliament, and neighbouring Kehl, would also be symbolic in that it
would mark a new French rapprochement with NATO.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in August that he would take "very
strong" initiatives to build up European defence and renew the NATO military
alliance, while giving France "its full place" in the organisation.
Experts believe Sarkozy could soon move to end a 30-year French boycott of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, held at arm's length since president
Charles de Gaulle withdrew from its integrated military command in 1966.
France has taken part in NATO deployments to the Balkans in the 1990s and
is part of the NATO-led security force in Afghanistan. It also helped with
NATO disaster relief work following the earthquake in Pakistan two years ago.
The last time a summit of heads of state and government was held in France
was in 1957 in Paris, where NATO's headquarters were based at the time.
A NATO-Russia summit in 1997 really only focused on their bilateral
Another NATO diplomat underlined that "nothing had been discussed or
formally decided for the moment as far as the summit goes".
But discussions at NATO are believed to be focused on the best date, rather
than location, for the meeting, which would follow the alliance's next big
summit in Bucharest on April 2-4.