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500 German troops to be deployed in France

File photo: German soldiers. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Jan 17, 2009
Germany wants to send 500 soldiers to France in what would be its first deployment to the country since the end of World War II in 1945, Der Spiegel magazine reports in an article to be published Monday.

According to the news weekly, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German defence ministry last week to station the soldiers in the border town of Colmar.

The soldiers will cooperate with their French counterparts in a joint force known as the Franco-German Brigade.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Merkel were expected to give further details at the Munich Conference on Security Policy at the end of February, after an initial decision to keep the brigade running was announced in November.

Der Spiegel also reported that Sarkozy would post a French infantry unit to Donaueschingen, southwest Germany, while a regiment based in the nearby town of Immendingen would return to France.

The Franco-German Brigade was set up in 1989 by the then French President Francois Mitterrand and German chancellor Helmut Kohl to increase military cooperation between the two former enemies.

It includes some 5,000 soldiers -- 2,800 of which are German. Until now, they have been stationed only in southwest Germany.

A handful of German officers, however, are already based in Strasbourg, east France, directly engaged with the NATO mission Eurocorps.

However, no independent German military unit has been stationed in the country since the end of hostilities in World War II over 60 years ago.

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