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The Latest: Lecointre to be France's top military official

The Latest: Lecointre to be France's top military official


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PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the departure of France's military chief (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Francois Lecointre, a career military officer who led the EU military training mission in Mali, is to be named France's new military official, after his predecessor quit in a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner confirmed the appointment Wednesday.

Lecointre served in Sarajevo during the Yugoslavia wars in the 1990s and recently led the mission in Mali to help fight Islamic extremists.

Earlier in the day, Gen. Pierre de Villiers submitted his resignation after a clash with Macron over budget cuts, a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms.

Macron's office sought to play down tensions over de Villiers departure, but French defense commentators described their public dispute as a serious crisis.

___

10:30 a.m.

France's military chief has quit in a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron over budget cuts, a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms.

The office of Gen. Pierre de Villiers, chief of staff of the armed forces, said he submitted his resignation to Macron at a security council meeting Wednesday. Macron's office did not immediately comment.

De Villiers lashed out at new spending curbs during a closed-door parliamentary commission meeting last week, according to leaked reports.

Macron then publicly upbraided him, saying, "it is not dignified to air certain debates in the public sphere. I made commitments (to budget cuts). I am your boss."

Macron has promised to boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2025 as part of France's commitments to NATO, but his budget minister last week announced limits on this year's military expenses.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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