German troops stationed in France for first time since WWII
A battalion of German combat troops is to be officially stationed in eastern France on Friday for the first time since Nazi forces ended the Reich's occupation at the end of World War II.
The battalion, part of the joint Franco-German Brigade, will be stationed at Illkirch-Graffenstaden outside Strasbourg, near the German border, and will eventually consist of 600 soldiers.
The historic move, aimed at cementing friendship between the neighbours who fought three devastating wars in 140 years, was agreed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a Munich summit in 2009.
A ceremony to mark the event on Friday is to be attended by French Defence Minister Alain Juppe and his German counterpart Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.
German soldiers have been arriving at the base since April and took part in November 11 Armistice Day commemorations alongside their French counterparts for the first time.
Two French regiments within the Franco-German Brigade, which became operational in 1989 and consists of around 5,400 troops, are stationed in southwestern Germany, at Donaueschingen and Immendingen.
The German battalion is to be stationed in Alsace, a region that changed hands several times between Germany and France between 1871 and 1945.
© 2010 AFP