Hollande wants closer defence partnership with Germany

PARIS (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday said he wanted a closer partnership with Germany to work on defence issues and ensure peace and security in the world.

Hollande, speaking at a high-profile press conference, said he wanted the top two EU economies to jointly react to these challenges.

"I would like a Franco-German partnership which can react on behalf of Europe on defence matters... we must demonstrate a joint responsibility for peace and stability in the world," he said.

Hollande said the idea of closer cooperation between the two countries would be raised at a meeting he would hold in Paris on Feb 19 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Berlin and Paris argue that given budget constraints, European Union countries must pool and share resources to secure Europe's ability to act on security issues.

Germany's former defence minister, Thomas de Maiziere, last week took a swipe at France and Britain, accusing them of not pulling their weight in international military interventions.

"When it comes to international engagements, we have several times been more involved than France," he said in an apparent reference to the Nato-led operation in Afghanistan where Germany contributes the third most troops behind the United States and Britain.