Britain says France defence deal intact despite EU row

Britain said Sunday that a defence pact signed with France a year ago under which the two countries would would share aircraft carriers was still intact despite last week's EU summit farrago. After British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday vetoed a new EU treaty aimed at saving the euro, Foreign Secretary William Hague also said that relations between Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy remained "warm". In November 2010 Britain and France signed two pacts agreeing unprecedented defence ties in order to save money, including the creation of a joint military force, the sharing of aircraft carriers and closer nuclear research. "My experience is that the relationships with the French on defence are extremely good and I expect them to remain extremely good," British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told Sky News. "We both have strong reasons of self-interest to want to collaborate in defence, to make ourselves stronger with the budgets available," adding that French officers were "embedded" in the British army and on Royal Navy warships. Hague meanwhile played down reports in British newspapers of angry scenes between Cameron and Sarkozy in Brussels on Thursday. "They have a frank but good, warm, relationship and all that will continue," Hague told Sky News. He said a Franco-British summit in Paris that was postponed earlier this month was due to go ahead next month. The former Conservative leader and noted eurosceptic also hailed the French and British cooperation in the military operation in Libya earlier this year that led to the toppling of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. "This year the foreign policies of Britain and France have been more closely aligned together than in any year since the Second World War," he said. (c) 2011 AFP
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Source: AFP
Date: Dec 11, 2011