NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Monday that the defense alliance is looking to step up cooperation with the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan. Speaking after meetings with the French defense and foreign ministers in Paris, Scheffer predicted tighter cooperation between NATO's 11,000 troops and the 19,000 soldiers in the U.S.-led Enduring Freedom coalition in Afghanistan.
France, which has been wary of NATO over the years, has been behind a push for better coordination between the defense forces of EU countries - not all of which are NATO members. Scheffer said he hoped the European Union would broaden its role in the Balkans such as by taking over some police activities now run by the United Nations. In 1965, President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from the alliance's integrated military structure, refusing to put his troops under NATO command or host NATO bases, AP reports.