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French Defence Minister

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent discussion with the French Defence Minister., with particular reference to the possible joint development or purchase of an air-launched stand-off nuclear missile to replace free-fall bombs.

My right hon. Friend met his French colleague, M. Giraud, in London on 14 December as part of the normal series of exchanges between the two countries. They discussed a wide range of defence issues. Their talks included consideration of each country's requirements for an air-launched stand off missile. It was agreed that further studies should be undertaken to identify where the British and French requirements were similar and assess what merit there might be in collaboration.The procurement of a replacement for Britain's current theatre nuclear weapon, the free-fall bomb, is a long-term undertaking. A number of options are open to us and no decisions have yet been taken.