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01:49 PM, January 20, 2018
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France to Increase Defence Spending by $2.2 Billion This Year
France to Increase Defence Spending by $2.2 Billion This Year

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to increase the defence spending by 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion) this year to 34.2 billion ($42 billion) euros, in a move to guarantee country's domestic security and maintain French military engagement abroad.

Addressing soldiers onboard the assault ship Dixmude off the naval base of Toulon on Friday, Macron also pledged to bring increase GDP to 2 percent of from about 1.8 percent currently by 2025, Mainichi Japan reports Saturday.

The budget for overseas operations will be gradually increased to reach 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in 2020, compared to 450 million ($551 million) last year.

Insisting on the need for better European cooperation aimed at developing a "strategic autonomy," Macron said Germany will be an essential partner alongside Britain. He insisted the alliance, including both EU members and non-member states, would not be in competition with NATO.

Last year in July, France’s top military chief, Gen. Pierre de Villiers, offered his resignation after President Macron said publicly that he would be the one to determine military policy and implicitly criticized General de Villiers for questioning the government’s proposed budget cuts.

France’s defense spending will reach 34.2 billion euros in 2018, including 650 million for external operations, up from 32.7 billion euros in 2017, Macron has said last year. After General de Villiers’s resignation, Macron reassured ministers during a cabinet meeting that the proposed level of spending would be sufficient “to protect the country”.

Macron also confirmed his plan to restore a national service -- one of his campaign promises -- a measure that will be funded with a separate budget. The one-month conscription is expected to involve about 600,000 people every year, aged between 18 and 21.

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