London: British Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has said that the government may have to consider greater military ties with France and other allies, even if they have been historic enemies.
Ainsworth’s statement comes despite France's refusal to commit troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said the UK must make "tough choices" as this year's long-awaited review of defence spending officially began.
The green paper was seen as an admission that we can no longer afford our own independent forces, as the Government tackles the GBP 178 billion deficit in the public finances.
Sources said measures could include French jets using British aircraft carriers.
Ainsworth said: "We need to rebalance our budget to better reflect our priorities. Defence must be more adaptable, able to respond quickly to the changes in the security environment and the character of conflict. We must increase co-operation with international partners to deliver defence more effectively and efficiently in order to make the best of our combined resources."
The green paper - the first stage of the Strategic Defence Review - emphasised that the US remained Britain's most important ally. But it claimed in the future the UK would have to look to co-operate more widely with other countries.
First Published: Thursday, February 04, 2010, 14:21