France increases defence spending 'to counter extremism'

2014 file photo of French soldier on patrol in Paris Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Hollande said soldiers would continue to protect sensitive sites in France

French President Francois Hollande says defence spending will rise by nearly €4bn to tackle extremist threats "at home and overseas".

He said the increase would take place over the four years from 2016, and this year's budget would be ring-fenced.

A deployment of 7,000 soldiers to protect sensitive sites across France will become permanent, he said.

France has been on high alert since the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said only last week that French police had managed to foil a further five planned terror attacks since then.

"France is facing threats at home and overseas," Mr Hollande told reporters. "Security, protection, independence are principles that are not negotiable."

He said the 2015 defence budget will remain at €31.4bn ($35bn; £22bn), and would increase by an extra €3.8bn between 2016 and 2019.

The move will save 18,500 of the 34,000 job cuts that were planned for the military over the next five years, unnamed presidential officials said.

As well as boosting France's internal security, the additional funding would also protect French forces engaged in operations abroad, in places such as Iraq and the Sahel region of Africa.

"We have the duty to support people who may come under threat, but we also defend our own security," Mr Hollande said.

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