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Europe

Britain and France sign deal creating joint military force

media British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in London Reuters/Leon Neal

France and Britain announced Tuesday a defence deal that would create a joint military taskforce, share aircraft carriers and bring their nuclear research closer. Economic necessity seems to have pushed the historic rivals to cooperation in a way that diplomacy could not.
 

"Today we open a new chapter," British Prime Minister David Cameron told a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a Foreign Office mansion in
central London

“Britain and France are natural partners."

"France and Britain's clocks strike at the same hour at the same time," Sarkozy told reporters. "We intend to work hand in glove."

Cameron and Sarkozy signed two pacts that will strengthen the relationship between the historic rivals, and allow both to maintain a strong military presence in the midst of budget cuts.

"I do seriously believe that this link-up with the French is in the long-term interests of both our countries," Cameron told British lawmakers Monday.

Such a deal has been in the pipeline for a while, but officials from both countries say the agreement was sped along by the needs of both countries to cut their military budgets.

The countries will "share the costs of development" and build "European champions" capable of competing with the United States, said the French President’s office.

Both France and Britain have stressed that despite the agreements, the two countries will maintain their sovereignty.

The first treaty is an agreement on defence, creating a combined joint expeditionary force, setting up the sharing of aircraft carriers as of 2020, and some joint procurement, among other measures. The second treaty deals with technology, specifically in the testing of nuclear weapons.

The new force will be made of 3,500 to 5,000 troops, and will start training next year. It would be deployed on an ad hoc basis under a single commander, who will probably English-speaking.

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