June 18, 2008 / 5:51 PM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX: France's on-off relations with NATO

(Reuters) - Britain welcomed France’s decision to move towards full integration with NATO. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday France would boost military cooperation within the European Union and advocate “full participation in NATO structures”, leaving open whether it would rejoin the NATO military command structure.

Here are some details of France-NATO relations.

* U.S., Canada and 10 West European nations signed the Washington Treaty to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.

* President Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO’s integrated military structure in March 1966 in protest at what he saw as U.S. domination of security issues, but France has remained a full political member of the alliance.

* The French withdrawal forced NATO to move its headquarters to Brussels from outside Paris in 1967.

* After its partial withdrawal from NATO, France championed the idea of more independent European defenses, particularly the idea that the then 12-nation European Community should take on this role while developing a common foreign and security policy.

* By 1993 France was again taking part in all planning of peacekeeping operations, part of NATO’s new role. France also sent planes to Bosnia as part of a NATO force, and France and Germany set up a joint corps of 35,000 troops which would be available to NATO or the WEU (Western European Union).

* In January 1994 Philippe Seguin, the influential president of France’s National Assembly, called for an end to NATO and its replacement with a pan-European alliance independent of U.S. military leadership. Conflicts were increasingly regional rather than global and NATO could no longer respond to Europe’s needs, he said.

* In September 1994 France attended a NATO defense meeting for the first time in 28 years, saying it was ready for closer ties with NATO but would not rejoin the U.S.-led military wing.

* In 1995 aircraft from seven NATO countries began the first NATO exercise in France since the French withdrawal.

* France upgraded its links with the alliance later that year, taking up its seat on the military committee and taking a full part in formal defense ministers’ meetings. It still did not rejoin the alliance’s integrated military structure.

* France announced in January 1996 it would re-establish a permanent military mission to NATO but not rejoin the NATO Defense Planning Committee or the Nuclear Planning Group.

* In October 1997 France, locked in a duel with the United States over command prestige, told NATO again it would not soon rejoin its military structure but would still take part in peacekeeping and other allied troop missions.

* In early 2003 France and Belgium vetoed NATO’s planning for steps to defend Turkey in the event of war against Iraq, unmoved by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s description of their stalling as a “disgrace”.

* NATO eventually broke the month-long deadlock over its plans after talks in a committee where France has no seat.

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