UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly have agreed to increase their co-operation and intelligence sharing in the Channel, one of the busiest maritime highways in the world.

The two ministers signed an agreement during a bilateral meeting in the UK, which outlined plans to improve British and French co-operation on countering terrorism and illegal migration in the Channel.

"As we leave the European Union (EU), we will continue our relationship with our European allies and a vital part of this will be through our defence relationship."

Williamson said: “As we leave the European Union (EU), we will continue our relationship with our European allies and a vital part of this will be through our defence relationship.

“The Channel is of huge importance to both our countries and this new agreement demonstrates our commitment to work with international partners to help tackle the threat of piracy and terrorism around the globe and protect our people at home.

“The UK will always do what is necessary to protect ourselves and will work with our allies, like France, to achieve this.”

The latest agreement between the two nations builds on an existing partnership between the British Royal Navy and French Navy, which includes joint exercises and maritime intelligence-sharing.

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It will ensure that both France and the UK deploy the most modern and advanced technologies, as well as share knowledge to help their respective navies identify suspicious activities and carry out maritime security operations.

The bilateral meeting has been conducted ahead of the next UK-France Summit scheduled for next year, which is anticipated to further help strengthen the defence cooperation between the two countries.

The UK, US and France previously signed a trilateral agreement in June to strengthen cooperation for their anti-submarine warfare activities as the three countries operate in the 5th Fleet area of operations.