Sarkozy: Britain, France Closest on Defense since World War II

World | February 17, 2012, Friday // 15:50
Bulgaria: Sarkozy: Britain, France Closest on Defense since World War II UK PM Cameron (left) and French President Sarkozy (right) shaking hands in Paris on Friday. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The UK and France have signed a deal on increased cooperation in the development of nuclear energy while also announcing closer defense ties.

The pledges were made Friday at a summit in Paris between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, at which both men seemed eager to patch up the frosty relations on display after December's fractious European Union summit, DPA reported.

Despite their occasional and "traditional" differences over Europe, cooperation between the two countries on foreign and defense issues was better "than at any time since World War II," Sarkozy said.

The agreement on nuclear cooperation is expected to create deals worth more than GBP 500 M (USD 790 M) while creating more than 1 500 jobs in Britain.

Britain's Rolls-Royce engineering company secured a major stake in the building by French nuclear constructor Areva of four new reactors, including one at Hinkley Point in southern Britain.

The two governments also agreed to push ahead with the next phase of plans to build a new generation of unmanned fighter aircraft, of which a prototype is set to be produced by 2020.

Plans to create a joint Anglo-French command control and command center for future rapid deployment operations would also be accelerated, the British Press Association reported.

Reports point out that for Cameron, the trip was an opportunity to gauge the political temperature in France after Sarkozy's declaration that he will stand for a second term in elections to be held in April and May.

Sarkozy faces an uphill battle to win re-election over his more popular Socialist rival, Francois Hollande.

Accompanying Cameron were his Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, Energy Secretary Ed Davey and Foreign Secretary William Hague.

On the French side, Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, Defense Minister Gerard Longuet and Industry Minister Eric Besson were taking part in the talks.

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Tags: David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Defense Secretary, Philip Hammond, Ed Davey, Foreign Secretary, William Hague, UK, Great Britain, France, French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister, French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, Alain Juppe, Gerard Longuet, Eric Besson, Areva, World War II
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