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France's Macron Pledges Big Increase in Defense Budget

French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd-R), his personal military Chief of Staff, Admiral Bernard Rogel (L), the Chief of the Defense Staff of the French Army, Gen. Francois Lecointre (2nd-L) listen to Jean Porcher, ship's Captain of the Dixmude, docked in the French Navy base of Toulon, southern France, Jan. 19, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to boost defense spending in the coming years to guarantee his country's domestic security and maintain French military engagement abroad.

Addressing soldiers onboard the assault ship Dixmude off the naval base of Toulon, Macron said on Friday he will increase spending by 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion) this year to 34.2 billion ($42 billion) euros this year. He also pledged to bring defense spending to 2 percent of GDP — from about 1.8 percent currently — by 2025, in a move aimed at "stopping the erosion of our military capacity."

Macron also called for increased European cooperation — including both EU members and non-member states — to bring about a "strategic autonomy." He insisted the alliance would not be in competition with NATO.