UK and France to strike deal on precision weapons at Paris Summit


2023-03-10 11:48:38

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron are set to strike a deal for the UK and France to collaborate on building weapons to combat aggression by Russia.

The prime minister is set to meet his French counterpart in Paris on Friday, where the pair will discuss how to work more closely to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

They are expected to sign off on a deal to look at developing “next-generation” long-range missiles – the kind needed by Nato to protect against the threat from Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Mr Sunak and Mr Macron are also set to further coordinate on the British and French supply of weapons to Ukraine, and the joint training of Ukrainian marines.

In a surprise move signalling a desire for closer collaboration with Europe on security, the PM will also confirm that the UK will next year host a meeting of the European Political Community – the club proposed by Mr Macron to foster closer ties outside of the EU.

Boris Johnson had said he was not interested in any formal structure for a wider European club. Liz Truss had also expressed scepticism, but attended the group’s first summit in Prague in October.

Speaking ahead of the first British-French bilateral summit in five years, officials said the allies hope a new weapons project produces the kind of long-range missiles that Nato needs to “protect against the growing threat from Russia”.

Mr Sunak said the West faced “unprecedented threats” and that he and Mr Macron both wanted to “fortify” Nato so the defensive alliance is “ready to take on the challenges of the future”.

During their talks at the Elysee Palace – which will include discussing a new deal on tackling small boats crossings – No 10 said the PM and the French president would recognise Russia as posing the biggest threat to global security.

Mr Sunak said: “Our deep history, our proximity and our shared global outlook mean that a firm partnership between the UK and France is not just valuable, it is essential.

“From tackling the scourge of illegal migration to driving investment in one another’s economies, the work we do together improves the lives of each and every person in our countries.”

The PM added: “As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is vital that we fortify the structures of our alliance so we are ready to take on the challenges of the future. That is what we will do at the UK-France summit today.”

Mr Sunak announced in February, during Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Britain, that the UK would start to train Kyiv’s marines and pilots.

No 10 said an accord on further joint UK and French training could see thousands more Ukrainians brought to battlefield readiness. They will also discuss what Nato members can do to provide the country with long-term defence capabilities.

Rishi Sunak embraces Emmanuel Macron at Cop27


Their attention will also turn to the Indo-Pacific, a region the UK has already agreed to “tilt” its foreign and defence policy towards.

Part of a deal on increasing allied activity in the Indo-Pacific will include establishing France and UK as the “backbone” to a permanent European maritime presence there.

The approach will include coordinating regular deployment of France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales carriers across the region.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said the agreement on Indo-Pacific collaboration was about “responding to the challenge posed by China”.

It is the first time the summit has been held since Theresa May was prime minister in 2018, with cross-Channel relations turning frosty during Boris Johnson’s premiership.

The talks on defence also come after a row about the trilateral Aukus pact, which saw the UK and US agree to assist Australia in building nuclear-powered submarines.

The deal angered Paris due to Australia choosing to renege on a deal agreed previously between the two nations on supplying Canberra with diesel-powered submarine vessels.

No 10 confirmed that the integrated defence spending review will be published on Monday as Mr Sunak heads to the US for talks with Joe Biden and Australian PM Anthony Albanese on Aukus.

Cabinet ministers – including defence secretary Ben Wallace, foreign secretary James Cleverly and home secretary Suella Braverman – will also attend the UK-France summit to meet with their counterparts.

#France #strike #deal #precision #weapons #Paris #Summit

Source by []