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France to increase support for NATO battle group in Estonia, Times reports

French soldiers arriving in Estonia (photo is illustrative).
French soldiers arriving in Estonia (photo is illustrative). Source: (Ardi Hallismaa)

The Times reported on Thursday that in turn for British units participating in a French-led operation against Islamist militants in West Africa, France will increase its support for the British-led NATO battle group in Estonia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to announce the step at their summit meeting tomorrow Friday.

According to the Times, it is the intent of the two governments to signal a desire for closer military cooperation leading up to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.

Though sources referred to the two missions, exactly what the size of each contribution would eventually be couldn't be confirmed, the Baltic News Service wrote.

Britain is also expected to allocate £50 million in additional aid for victims of epidemics, natural disasters, and conflicts across Mali, Niger, Chad, North Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.

Luik: France of decisive importance as European, nuclear power

Defence Minister Jüri Luik (IRL) pointed out that the British battalion present in Estonia provided the framework for the NATO battle group, but that there would always be another allied country contributing to it.

"The French government has made the decision that this will be France again in 2019," Luik said. "The fact is extremely important politically that France is a large European country, a nuclear power, and a country that Estonia has cooperated with militarily," he added.

The step indicated that Britain and France are working on more close political ties. "This creates a form of cooperation between our allies in the face of Brexit," Luik added. "Britain and France next to the USA are those countries Estonia has cooperated with most actively."

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS, ERR

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