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11 Aug 11. Denmark decided Aug. 11 to extend its participation in NATO operations in Libya for three months and to allow the rebel National Transitional Council to send envoys to Copenhagen. Denmark’s multi-party Libya contact group announced at a news conference the Scandinavian country’s six F-16 fighter jets would continue participating in NATO bombing missions over Libya for another three-month renewable period after the current one expires later this month. “There is a broad agreement that the strategy we have chosen is the right one,” Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen told AFP after the news conference. She insisted that Denmark’s participation in the NATO operations was creating a possibility for Libya to become a free and democratic society. The foreign minister added that Denmark was prepared to welcome envoys from the NTC as representatives of their country, after Copenhagen on Aug. 9 declared the two remaining Libyan diplomats appointed by the Gadhafi regime persona non grata. (Source: Defense News)
11 Aug 11. Norway has withdrawn its F-16 fighter squadron from NATO’s Operation Unified Protector (OUP). The return of the F-16s ends Norway’s direct involvement in the operation and the enforcement of NATO’s no-fly zone over Libya. The Norwegian Air Force’s squadron, comprising six F-16s, flew 596 missions, almost 10 percent of the total by NATO-aligned aircraft, since March. The aircraft dropped 542 bombs and logged about 2,000 hours of flight time over the four-month period, according to Norwegian Ministry of Defense figures. (Source: Defense News)
12 Aug 11. Turkey has plans to spend $5bn on defence procurement this year, which would be the highest figure in the country’s history, a senior procurement official has said. The Hurriyet Daily News quoted the official as saying that the defence spending would continue to increase over the next few years. “Some major spending items have just started or are starting now, including those for the purchase of around 100 Joint Strike Fighter jet aircraft, submarines and utility helicopters,” the official added. The increase in Turkey’s arms procurement budget would be balanced by an increase in the local defence industry’s exports, expected to be between $1bn and $1.5bn. Turkey’s defence procurement had reached $4bn a year in previous years. (Source: armytechnology.com)
10 Aug 11. The panel of US lawmakers charged with slashing as much as $1,500bn from future deficits began to take shape with the appointment of three senior Democrats to the committee, including Patty Murray of Washington state as co-chair. Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, also named Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts to sit on the 12-member panel, which will have to vote on new deficit reduction measures by November 23 in the next phase of the budgetary battles that have defined America’s political scene this year. The choice of Mr Baucus could be seen as opening the door for tax reform, while the selection of Ms Murray brings in a staunch defender of the US defence and aerospace industry. The decision not to call up members of the so-called “Gang of Six” – a group of senators who had crafted a bipartisan compromise on debt reduction last month – could raise eyebrows among fiscal hawks, who would like to see the committee exceed expectations and strike a broader deal to stabilise America’s mounting debt load. The other co-chair of the panel will be chosen by John Boehner, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives. Each party caucus from each chamber will have three representatives on the committee. Ms Murray, Mr Baucus and Mr Kerry are among the most high-ranking senators Mr Reid could have chosen, highlighting the high stakes involved in the forthcoming negotiations. Ms Murray is a