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French defence minister pledges to stand by Romania

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Romania’s defence minister held an official meeting in Bucharest on Thursday with his French counterpart, who pledged to stand by Romania through “difficult times” as tensions soar between Russia and Ukraine, according to AP News.

The meeting between Vasile Dincu and Florence Parly was held at Romania’s Ministry of National Defence, where the two NATO members discussed bolstering military ties within the framework of the alliance. The officials also discussed Romania’s acquisition of naval ships from France.

“The current security situation is worrying on the eastern flank of Europe,” Parly told the media after the meeting. “In this context, Romanians are rightly anxious to strengthen their own security, as tensions in Ukraine continue to escalate … we understand your situation and want to support you.”

The meeting comes a day after Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, held a meeting with the Supreme Council of National Defense in Bucharest, where he said in a statement after that Romania is in talks with both the U.S. and France to receive troops from both countries.

“We are in contact with the two allies in order to establish concrete ways to achieve a military presence of the two partners on our territory,” Iohannis said Wednesday, noting that Romania shares over 600 kilometres of border with Ukraine, its northern neighbour.

Parly said Thursday that a “mission of experts from my ministry is arriving in Romania today to study the parameters of this possible deployment,” and that France is also “fully committed” to helping the Romanian armed forces to modernize.

Last week Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded that NATO reduce its troops from countries that joined the Alliance after 1997, which includes Romania, which joined in 2004. Romania’s foreign ministry responded by saying in a statement that “such a request is inadmissible and cannot be negotiated.”

“We are living in difficult times, and in these difficult times France will stand by Romania,” Parly said. “France will never abandon its allies and friends.”

She was set to meet on Thursday afternoon with President Iohannis.