Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron are set to strike a deal for the UK and France to collaborate on building weapons to counter Russian aggression.
The Prime Minister is due to meet his French counterpart in Paris on Friday, where the pair will discuss how to work more closely to help Ukraine defend against Russian invasion.
They are expected to sign an agreement to consider the development of “next generation” long-range missiles – the type NATO needs to protect against the threat of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Mr Sunak and Mr Macron are also expected to coordinate more British and French arms supply to Ukraine and the joint training of Ukrainian marines.
In a surprise move signaling a desire for closer security collaboration with Europe, the Prime Minister will also confirm that the UK will host a meeting of the European Political Community next year – the club proposed by Mr Macron to foster closer ties outside the EU.
Boris Johnson had said he was not interested in any formal structure for a wider European club. Liz Truss had also expressed skepticism, but had attended the group’s first summit in Prague in October.
Speaking ahead of the first Franco-British bilateral summit in five years, the officials said the allies hoped a new weapons project would produce the kind of long-range missiles NATO needs to “protect against the growing threat from Russia.
Mr Sunak said the West faced “unprecedented threats” and that he and Mr Macron both wanted to “fortify” NATO so that the defensive alliance would be “ready to meet the challenges of the coming “.
During their talks at the Elysée – which will include discussion of a new deal on tackling small boat crossings – No 10 said the French prime minister and president would recognize Russia as the most major threat to global security.
Mr Sunak said: “Our deep history, our closeness and our shared global vision mean that a strong partnership between the UK and France is not only valuable, it is essential.
“From fighting the scourge of illegal migration to boosting investment in everyone’s economies, the work we do together improves the lives of every person in our countries. »
The Prime Minister added: “As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is essential that we strengthen the structures of our alliance so that we are ready to meet the challenges of the future. This is what we will do today at the France-UK summit.
Mr Sunak announced in February, during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Britain, that the UK would start training Kiev’s marines and pilots.
No 10 said a deal on joint British and French training could see thousands more Ukrainians brought to the battlefield. They will also discuss what NATO members can do to provide the country with long-term defense capabilities.
Their attention will also turn to the Indo-Pacific, a region to which the UK has already agreed to “switch” its foreign and defense policy.
Part of a deal on increased Allied activity in the Indo-Pacific will include establishing France and the UK as the ‘backbone’ of a permanent European maritime presence there. .
The approach will include coordinating the regular deployment of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carriers and the British HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales carriers across the region.
Mr Sunak’s official spokesperson said the agreement on Indo-Pacific collaboration was aimed at “responding to the challenge posed by China”.
It is the first time the summit has been held since Theresa May became prime minister in 2018, with cross-Channel relations turning frosty during Boris Johnson’s tenure.
The defense talks also come after a row over the Aukus trilateral pact, which saw the UK and US agree to help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines.
The deal angered Paris as Australia opted to back out of a previously agreed deal between the two countries over supplying Canberra with diesel-powered submarines.
No 10 confirmed that the Integrated Defense Spending Review will be released on Monday as Mr Sunak travels to the US for talks with Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Aukus.
Cabinet ministers – including Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Home Secretary Suella Braverman – will also attend the UK-France summit to meet their counterparts.
This article is originally published on news-24.fr