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Germany, Britain sign military pact for post-Brexit era

October 5, 2018

The NATO allies have agreed to expand their decades-old military alliance as they brace for Britain's exit from the EU. The UK has already said it would retain military presence in Germany even after next year's Brexit.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen with her British counterpart Gavin Williamson.
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger

Germany and Britain on Friday signed a deal to further deepen their decades-old military cooperation.

The agreement was signed by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her British counterpart Gavin Williamson in the western German town of Minden.

This is a "symbolically important sign of German-British friendship," von der Leyen said, adding that the two want to strengthen the "good cooperation even further, in the navy, the air force, and in cyber capabilities."

The pact comes as Britain's planned exit from the European Union nears. The UK, which has the highest defense spending among EU countries, expects to continue to play a sizable role in shielding the bloc from future security threats.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain, which boasts of one of the best resourced and capable intelligence services and military in the EU, is committed to protecting Europe after Brexit.

"We will further strengthen the European pillar in NATO, contribute to European security and improve Europe's resilience to security threats," the agreement said. "We are determined to deepen and strengthen our relationship in order to achieve our common defense and security goals," the agreement said.

The NATO allies agreed that their naval, land and air forces would work closely together and that they would cooperate in defense procurement.

A British soldier stationed in Germany
Britain has said it would retain a military presence in Germany even after BrexitImage: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger

Decades-old cooperation

Last week, Williamson said the UK will continue to have a military presence in Germany even after Brexit, scheduled for next year.

Williamson said British army personnel will be permanently based at the 45-square mile (117-square kilometer) Sennelager Training Area in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, which provides both UK and NATO forces with a live firing training area.

He added that the army personnel would continue to support the combined river crossing capability based in Minden, about 70 kilometers from Sennelager. It uses M3 vehicles, self-propelled amphibious rigs, jointly operated by British and German troops. Williamson and von der Leyen visited the facility on Friday.

ap/msh (Reuters, dpa)

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