Today 20 December
BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO called on European Union leaders Thursday to improve their cooperation on defense in the face of dwindling military budgets or face American disengagement from Europe.
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to cooperate more closely on making falling defense budgets go further, while President Francois Hollande failed to win any promise of EU help to pay for French military operations in Africa. Austerity-hit EU countries have slashed spending in response to the financial crisis, scaling back on ships, tanks and fighter jets and undermining Europe's military strength, much to the concern of the United States, its most important ally. Cameron said Britain, one of Europe's most capable military powers but one that has also scaled back spending, would support cooperation but drew the line at a European army. "It isn't right for the European Union to have capabilities, armies, air forces and the rest of it.
European Union leaders agreed limited steps Thursday towards greater defence cooperation but British opposition to the bloc having its own armed forces highlighted differences over how far they can go. At their first summit dedicated to defence since 2008, the 28 leaders were looking for ways to boost military capabilities at a time when budgets are under intense pressure. "Cooperation in the area of military capability development is crucial to maintaining key capabilities, remedying shortfalls and avoiding" duplication, the leaders said in a statement. They called on member states to "deepen defence cooperation by improving the capacity to conduct missions and operations," all based on a "more integrated" European defence industry.
The conflict, which has so far killed up to 500 people, has alarmed South Sudan's neighbors. African mediators held talks with President Salva Kiir on Thursday to try to broker peace. The fighting that erupted around the capital Juba on Sunday night has quickly spread, pitting loyalists of the former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, against Kiir, a member of the dominant Dinka clan. Rivals have fought fierce gunbattles over the town of Bor, north of Juba, the scene of a 1991 massacre by soldiers loyal to Machar of hundreds of Dinkas.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The American ambassador to the United Nations delivered a stern message on Thursday to the leaders of the strife-torn Central African Republic to stop the cycle of violence.