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Cameron, Sarkozy to Seal Defense Cooperation Accord in London

Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy will seal an agreement between Britain and France on defense cooperation when they meet in London next week, a French official told reporters.

Sarkozy will be accompanied by his ministers of defense, finance, and immigration, who will meet with their British counterparts. The French official spoke to reporters late yesterday in Paris.

The increased military cooperation between the two countries comes as both governments are looking for budget savings while keeping soldiers in Afghanistan and seeking to maintain independent nuclear deterrents.

Cameron said Oct. 19 that Britain’s armed forces will be reduced by 17,000 personnel, while 25,000 civilian staff will be axed in the defense ministry. He also announced the scrapping of an order for BAE Systems Plc’s Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft and said fewer, cheaper planes are needed for new aircraft carriers.

Cameron said the U.K. will press ahead with the construction of two aircraft carriers, though the launch of the first will be deferred to 2020 from 2016 to allow for the fitting of so-called catapult and arrester gear. This will allow the use of carrier-variant Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes, which will be cheaper than the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version previously proposed.

Britain and France together represent 45 percent of Europe’s military budget, 55 percent of its operational forces and 70 percent of its military research and technology, the Financial Times reported today, citing a French official.

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