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NATO chief welcomes Albania and Croatia for 2009
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has welcomed the announcement that Albania and Croatia have been invited to join the alliance.
At the start of the second day of the NATO summit in the Romanian capital Bucharest, he said the alliance's door was open to all Europe's new democracies. On Wednesday, when the three-day summit began, the 26 NATO member states set a date for Albania and Croatia to become members sometime in 2009.

France plans to decide this year on whether to rejoin NATO's military command. Last year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was considering the move.

France withdrew from NATO's military command in 1966. At the time, Charles de Gaulle, then president, decided France's possession of nuclear weapons meant the country no longer needed NATO.

President Sarkozy today (Thursday) confirmed France will be deploying extra troops to eastern Afghanistan. The United States is also sending more soldiers to the country. Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop is also attending the summit in Bucharest.

He says the Netherlands has transferred responsibility for a number of operations in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan to Afghan troops.

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