France, UK on board for joint aircraft carrier

9th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 9, 2006 (AFP) - France and Britain announced Friday their intention to work more closely on defence projects and expressed the hope that a joint aircraft carrier programme could begin next year.

PARIS, June 9, 2006 (AFP) - France and Britain announced Friday their intention to work more closely on defence projects and expressed the hope that a joint aircraft carrier programme could begin next year.

Following talks between French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and key ministers from both governments, Paris and London said the aircraft carrier proposal was an "important symbol" of their co-operation.

"This is a vital project for France, the UK and for Europe. The aircraft carriers are an important defence capability that will enhance our ability to act," they said in a joint statement after a summit in Paris.

"Our programme of co-operation has now reached the detailed definition phase which is due for completion by the end of the year.

"By then, our industries will have to make an attractive offer enabling programmes to be launched in 2007."

Britain and France are working on building two and one new conventionally-powered aircraft carriers, respectively, and want to share the costs of their technical development.

The then British defence secretary John Reid and his French counterpart Michèle Alliot-Marie signed an agreement in January this year to continue their co-operation on the vessels' technical design, despite wrangling over costs.

On Friday, ministers, including Alliot-Marie and Reid's successor Des Browne, said the co-operation on the project could be extended to improving the missile industry.

"In that spirit, we will establish a high-level working group from British and French government and industry to consider ways to build upon and enhance existing co-operation in armaments programmes," they said.

"We will ask that group to report by the end of the year."

Elsewhere in security and defence, the governments vowed to work together to improve efforts to combat areas such as global terrorism and illegal migration.

They also pledged their continuing support for the peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan, support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation force in Afghanistan and the new government in Iraq.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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