France balks at British bill for new ship designs

23rd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 22, 2006 (AFP) - France is refusing to pay a 100 million pound (EUR 145 million) bill which the British government is demanding in return for access to design work for its future aircaft-carrier programme, according to a report in the international journal Defense News to appear Monday.

PARIS, Jan 22, 2006 (AFP) - France is refusing to pay a 100 million pound (EUR 145 million) bill which the British government is demanding in return for access to design work for its future aircaft-carrier programme, according to a report in the international journal Defense News to appear Monday.

The two countries are supposed to be cooperating on the development of three new aircraft-carriers — two for Britain and one for France — but Paris has balked at the price it is being asked to pay in order to see the British designs, the report said.

The issue is expected to dominate a meeting Tuesday between defence ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie and John Reid, where the French are expected to say they will agree to only half the sum, Defence News reported.

According to the journal, Britain expects to spend about 450 million pounds on design and development before reaching a decision, probably early next year, on production of the two 65,000-metric-ton carriers.

French industry needs access to the British design data and the new studies to assess potential savings in a cooperative program, and the costs to adapt the British architecture to French navy needs.

President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Tony Blair are both politically committed to the cooperation programme and in the past have overridden difficulties arising from the two countries' rival naval traditions and industrial interests.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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