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E.U. sets up paramilitary force

NOORDWIJK (The Netherlands): The European Union launched a new paramilitary force on Friday designed to help restore public order to regions emerging from conflict such as the Balkans and beyond. Defence Ministers from five E.U. countries, meeting in the Dutch seaside resort of Noordwijk with Ministers from all 25 E.U. states, said it would be modelled on the Italian carabinieri or French gendarmes and be operational by end-2005. ``This force is aimed at the transition between a military operation and a civil one,'' said the French Defence Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, signing a statement of intent on the force with counterparts from Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. ``Coming out of a crisis, there is always a delicate period before police can take over again where there is the possibility of sudden and great violence,'' she said. The new force, dubbed the ``European gendarmerie'', is not intended for conflict zones such as Iraq, but for countries recovering from war such as Bosnia, where the E.U. will take over peacekeeping from NATO in December. — Reuters

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