HC Deb 04 July 1995 vol 263 c136
14. Mr. Jon Owen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his French counterpart concerning the deployment of additional troops to Bosnia. [30568]

Mr. Rifkind

I met the French Defence Minister in London on 27 June. We discussed a wide range of issues, including the deployment of additional troops to Bosnia.

Mr. Jones

Has the Minister had an opportunity to read today's The Times, in which a United Nations spokesman was quoted as describing UNPROFOR troops in Sarajevo as "sitting ducks"? Does he agree that if our troops, French troops and other United Nations troops are not to remain another winter in Bosnia as sitting ducks, the rapid reaction forces must arrange for their withdrawal this summer?

Mr. Rifkind

No, I do not agree. For the time being, United Nations forces are carrying out a valuable role. That has been widely recognised and we hope that they will be able to continue to do so.

Miss Emma Nicholson

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that, in addition to the participation of French troops in Bosnia, we have 20 to 30 other training or co-operative missions with the French at present? Am I not right in thinking that that was the prime reason for the Prime Minister supporting the defence plank of the Maastricht treaty last year?

Mr. Rifkind

There is good intergovernmental co-operation with France, as with the Netherlands and a number of other countries. We believe that it is in the interests of our defence capability to carry out joint exercises and to develop joint capabilities with a number of close allies.

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