PARIS (AP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy has submitted a formal request to rejoin the NATO command structure following a 43-year absence, French and NATO officials said Friday.

A letter with the request was presented Thursday to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer during an EU summit in Brussels, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. They declined to provide any further details on the letter’s content.

Submitting the letter was a formality, but an essential step in France’s return to the alliance – which celebrates its 60th birthday in two weeks.

The NATO official said the alliance must now decide what sort of command posts France will take up.

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