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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

france, germany agree to joint defence policy

DIJON, France -- France and Germany agreed Wednesday to bridge their differences over defense by devising a joint strategic policy and reviewing armaments cooperation and military integration by the end of the year.

President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Helmut Kohl agreed at a Franco-German summit to produce a joint framework for defense setting out their common strategic interests as a basis for future cooperation, officials said.

French sources quoted Chirac as saying intensive contact between the two countries had cleared up misunderstandings that arose when he announced in February a radical overhaul of French defense policy, shifting to an all-professional army by 2002.

German defense Minister Volker Ruehe was highly critical of Paris' move to scrap conscription and develop rapidly deployable long-range intervention forces, fearing a major cut in French purchases of jointly developed weapons systems.

However, a French source quoted Kohl as telling Chirac in the meeting that he was deeply grateful for the "great step forward which France has taken under your leadership, Jacques,in moving closer to a renewed and changed NATO."

A German official said both countries were determined to look for cost savings and new partners in their joint armaments programs in the light of budget cuts in Paris and Bonn.

However a French source insisted that none of the existing 27 joint programs, ranging from helicopters to missiles and armored fighting vehicles, was cast in doubt.

The joint defense concept, which does not cover nuclear strategy, and the studies on arms projects and military task-sharing are to be approved at the next Franco-German summit in Germany in the autumn.