Europe must shoulder more NATO duties: Chirac

28th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Nov 28, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday said the creation of a "contact group" of countries surrounding Afghanistan, the principal countries involved, and relevant international organisations, was "necessary" to support NATO's mission in the country.

LONDON, Nov 28, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday said the creation of a "contact group" of countries surrounding Afghanistan, the principal countries involved, and relevant international organisations, was "necessary" to support NATO's mission in the country.

His article comes as NATO opens a two-day summit in the Latvian capital of Riga, and Chirac also argued that Europe must shoulder an increasing burden within NATO as France was reportedly to loosen its caveats on troops in Afghanistan.

Writing in The Guardian, Chirac said the establishment of such a group was "necessary to give our forces the means to succeed in their mission in support of the Afghan authorities, and refocus the alliance on military operations."

"The Europeans have relied on their American allies for too long," Chirac wrote in the British daily.

"They have to shoulder their share of the burden by making a national defence effort commensurate with their ambitions for NATO and also for the EU."

He said that NATO should take into account the reality of the European Union's defence capabilities, as most of the EU's member states are also members of NATO.

"We are seeing European defence and NATO complementing each other to the benefit of both. Where Europe is better placed to act for geographical or historical reasons, or because of the nature of the action, the EU is taking on its share of the responsibilities as it should."

Chirac continued: "This development calls for a more substantive political and strategic dialogue between the US and the EU ... It probably also implies closer relations between NATO and the EU."

He said that, in particular, "the possibility of EU members consulting between themselves within the alliance" should be considered.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that Chirac will announce a loosening of caveats on French troops in Afghanistan that prevent them from entering the fierce fighting in the south of the country.

According to an unnamed senior French official, Chirac will say that in future, French troops could be deployed around the country when needed to help their NATO allies, instead of the present situation where they are confined to the area around the capital of Kabul.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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