NATO foreign ministers secured France's reluctant approval for a study on standardisation of the alliance's weapons in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday (11 December).
NATO foreign ministers secured France's reluctant approval for a study on standardisation of the alliance's weapons in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday (11 December). The breakthrough came on the first day of a two day NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting being held in the Belgium capital.
Although france does not form part of the NATO command structure, diplomats attending the 15-nation meeting were said to have been exasperated by France's objection to the word standardisation.
France, which withdrew from NATO's integrated command structure in 1967 regards standardisation of weapons as a potential threat to its defence industries. However, following discussions with the other countries at Thursday's meeting, France agreed with a proposal to set up a study group to look into standardisation.
Diplomatic sources said that the French Government has no real objection to the process of standardisation, but fears attack by both Gaullists and Communists for heading back towards possible full participation in NATO.
Ironically, while the delegates were discussing weapons, news that the first shots had been fired in the "Cod War" between Britain and iceland Seeped through to the meeting and overshadowed the business at hand.
Thursday's incident, which was the culmination of the continuing dispute over territorial fishing rights between Iceland and Britain, was regarded by all delegates at the NATO meeting with alarm. Both British Foreign Secretary, James Callaghan and Iceland's Foreign Minister, Einar Agustsson, were present when the news was announced and Mr. Callaghan immediately sought a private meeting with his Icelandic counterpart to discuss the situation.
SYNOPSIS: Secretary General of NATO, Joseph Luns, was an early arrival at the two day meeting of NATO foreign ministers which opened in the Belgian capital, brussels, on Thursday. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, arrived shortly afterwards.
The foreign ministers of the fifteen nation alliance were meeting in Brussels for the winter session to discuss East-West relations, force reduction and major political developments.
At Thursday's meeting the foreign ministers secured France's reluctant approval for a study on standardisation of the alliance's weapons. France does not belong to NATO's integrated command structure - having withdrawn in nineteen sixty-seven.
Although diplomatic sources say the French Government has no real objection to standardisation it is believed to fear an attack from Gaullists and Communists in France if it appears to be heading back towards possible full participation in NATO.
However, the issue was overshadowed by the news that the first shots had been fired from ships involved in the current fishing limits dispute between Britain and Iceland.
Both Britain's Foreign Secretary, James Callaghan, and Iceland's Foreign Minister, Einar Agustsson, were at the meeting and when Mr. Callaghan was given the news he immediately sought a private meeting with Mr. Agustsson to discuss the latest developments.