French-British defence cooperation: Minister Le Drian in London

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with his British counterpart, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond

United Kingdom/defence cooperation – Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Defence

Paris, 24 July 2012

On 24 July 2012, the Rt Hon. Philip Hammond MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence, and M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence, met in London, where they reviewed progress made under the Lancaster House treaties of 2010. The ministers met for the second time since M. Le Drian took office, after their first working meeting at the NATO summit in Chicago. The first visit of the new French Defence Minister followed the fruitful meeting between Prime Minister Cameron and President Hollande on 10 July and reinforces the unprecedented level of defence cooperation between our two countries.

Both ministers stressed their commitment to the treaties, agreeing that cooperation is essential at a time when defence budgets are under pressure. Greater military interoperability between the French and British armed forces would make both the UK and France more valuable partners, bilaterally, within the European Union and in alliances.

Mr Hammond and M. Le Drian committed themselves to strengthening their defence relationship further and welcomed in particular the signature of two important Memoranda of Understanding by Peter Luff MP, the UK Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, and Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué Général pour l’Armement, marking a new positive step in Franco-British cooperation on Unmanned Air Systems:

- One MoU represents the first phase of a demonstration programme for a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) ;

- The other was signed to enable cooperation on the Watchkeeper Tactical UAS. In this field of UAS, the ministers also discussed the potential for military cooperation between specialized units of the two armies using the same systems.

The Ministers took stock of progress in our nuclear cooperation and warmly welcomed the ongoing work on the CJEF and the exercise Corsican Lion, to be held in October 2012. The two ministers agreed to meet again in France on the occasion of this exercise.

They discussed ongoing strategic threats and challenges, including Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Sahel. Mr Hammond also welcomed the involvement of Sir Peter Ricketts as a UK member of the French White Paper Commission on National Security and Defence. This British participation will enable us to strengthen our dialogue on the strategic context. They also discussed the need for more effective European military capabilities in a time of financial constraints; NATO and its reform; and the development of European Defence.

The UK and France are determined to set the pace in Europe for cooperation to deliver their future capability requirements, and the ministers agreed that cooperation on specific programmes may include other close allies with similar capabilities and contributions, when practicable and feasible./.

Published on 26/07/2012

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