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Britain's May, France's Macron shore up defense commitment

Jan. 19 (UPI) — A summit meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emanuel Macron yielded a commitment to enhanced defense cooperation, the British government announced.

After the meeting on Thursday at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Britain’s military college, a British government statement said France will increase its support for the Forward Presence battle group in Estonia. The group, a NATO initiative led by Britain, was organized in 2016 to deter potential Russian aggression against vulnerable NATO countries on the Russian border.

Britain will also deploy helicopters to Mali to provide logistical support for French troops operating a counterterrorism mission.

May and Macron agreed to the creation of a two-country defense council in which the French and British defense ministers can be discussed; Britain, although it is leaving the European Union, will support the proposed European Intervention Initiative, a cooperative defense framework to improve operational planning of military deployments separate from NATO, EU and the JEF, or Young European Federalist organization, a pan-Europe movement.

The two leaders also confirmed that a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, a unified British-French deployable military command, will be ready by 2020.

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