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French minister calls for more aggressive reforms in NATO structure
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13:39, February 10, 2008

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French Defense Minister Herve Morin on Saturday called for more aggressive reforms in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

"Now we must go further and faster" to reform NATO, the French minister said while addressing a security conference in Munich, Germany.

Welcoming NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's reform efforts, Morin said NATO has been overstaffed and requires a sharptrim.

According to Morin, the trans-Atlantic military bloc has 22,000full-time employees, and nearly 320 committees or subcommittees, with some carrying the name of "committee on the challenges of modern society" or "food and agriculture committee."

The minister, however, stopped short of giving an explicit mention of the deliberations at home on whether France should return to NATO's military structure some four decades after General Charles de Gaulle pulled out of it in a show of defiance toward the United States.

Morin also rebutted U.S. and British concerns that strengthened European Union (EU) defense capabilities would undermine NATO.

"Our view is that NATO and EU resources do not rival in fact but complement each other," he said.

French leaders, who are studying the country's possible return, have said repeatedly that the strengthened EU defense capability would be the precondition for France's reintegration into NATO's military structure.

France was a founder member of NATO in 1949. It hosted the alliance's civilian and military headquarters until it withdrew from the NATO military command in 1966.

Source: Xinhua

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