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French leader Macron backs new push for united EU defence

Last Updated Aug 27, 2018 at 8:01 am PDT

FILE - In this Friday, July 20, 2018 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron looks after meeting President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the presidential Elysee Palace, in Paris, France. French President Emmanuel Macron is back from vacation and plans to launch a new push for economic changes as he faces growing criticism at home. The 40-year-old leader holds a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Aug. 22 at the Elysee presidential palace. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, file)

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new push Monday for a European defence project, saying the continent’s security shouldn’t rely so much on the United States.

In a speech to French ambassadors in Paris, Macron said “Europe cannot rely on the United States only for its security. It’s up to us to meet our responsibilities and guarantee our security, and therefore European sovereignty.”

He said discussions on defenceco-operation should be extended to all European countries and Russia, on condition that progress is made with Moscow on the fighting in eastern Ukraine between the government and Russia-backed separatists. He did not elaborate.

France is pushing for the full implementation of the 2015 Minsk peace agreement that was sponsored by France and Germany to settle the conflict in Ukraine, which has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014.

Macron’s speech aimed to set out the roadmap of French diplomacy for the next year.

Since his election in May 2017, the 40-year-old leader has called for a more integrated European Union, with a common European defence budget and security doctrine.

In November, EU countries officially launched a new era in defenceco-operation with a program of joint military investment and project development aimed at helping the EU confront its security challenges.

Twenty-three of the EU’s 28 member nations signed up to the process, known as permanent structured co-operation, or PESCO.

Britain, which is leaving the EU in 2019, and Denmark, which has a defence opt-out, were among those not taking part.