Friday September 29, 2017
07:03 PM GMT+8

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TAPA, Sept 29 — The UK is “unconditionally committed” to European security despite Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May told British troops stationed with Nato in Estonia today, as EU leaders met to discuss the future of the bloc.

Visiting troops with French President Emmanuel Macron, May reiterated UK’s position that security cooperation is not up for debate in London’s tense divorce negotiations with the European Union as she seeks to improve the mood and unlock the next stage of talks.

She and Macron visited Nato forces posted just 100 kilometres from the Russian border as part of a mission to reassure Baltic states the alliance will protect them from any Kremlin aggression.

UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas visit Nato Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battle group in Tapa September 29, 2017. — Reuters picUK’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas visit Nato Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battle group in Tapa September 29, 2017. — Reuters pic“While we are leaving the EU, as I have said many times, we are not leaving Europe,” May told forces at the Tapa base in northern Estonia.

“The UK is unconditionally committed to maintaining European security and we will continue to offer aid and assistance to EU member states which are the victims of armed aggression, terrorism and natural or man-made disasters.”

Nato has deployed four battle groups — around 4,000 troops — to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in recent years in response to growing Russian assertiveness in the region, particularly after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

The alliance has had around 800 British and 300 French soldiers posted at the Tapa base since the spring.

Macron told French troops their presence was proof that Nato was committed to protecting its members in the face of a mounting threat from Russia.

The two leaders were in Estonia for a summit of EU leaders in Tallinn where the future of the bloc without Britain was set to be the key topic on the agenda. — AFP

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