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PARIS — France will increase its defense budget by 3.8 billion euros ($4.2 billion) over four years from 2016 to ensure the army can tackle problems at home and maintain missions abroad, notably in Africa and the Middle East, President Francois Hollande said.
"France is facing big threats internally and externally," Hollande told reporters on Wednesday after a defense cabinet meeting. "Security, protection and independence are principles that are not negotiable."
Paris had previously said it would keep its annual defence budget at the same level — 31.4 billion euros — in its strategic review running from 2014 to 2019. This spending freeze meant the projected loss of 34,000 jobs in the armed forces, but Wednesday's decision will allow some of those positions to be saved.
"The military budget forecast 34,000 job cuts, (but) 18,500 will now be preserved," a source at the president's office said.
The French military is increasingly stretched with almost 10,000 troops stationed in Africa, about 1,500 in operations in the Middle East and now a permanent 10,000-troop presence on home-soil since Islamist attacks killed 17 people in January.
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