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EU should inform Turkey of defence plans - France

BRUSSELS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - France wants the European Union to keep Turkey better informed about its military plans in a bid to end a dispute blocking cooperation between the EU and NATO, diplomats said on Friday.

NATO member Turkey is holding up efforts by the two institutions to coordinate separate security missions in the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo in protest at what it says is the EU's failure to consult it properly on defence matters.

The French proposal would provide Ankara with greater information about EU defence planning without giving it a say in decision-making, diplomats familiar with the initiative said.

"Anything that helps unblock the current situation should be welcome," said one diplomat who requested anonymity because the French proposal, which has been informally circulated in Brussels, has not yet been launched officially.

Reactions to any proposal is unclear given Ankara's declaration that it is preparing to make military incursions into northern Iraq to battle some 3,000 Kurdish rebels who use the area as a base to fight for an independent homeland.

The U.S. has urged Ankara not to take unilateral action. The EU, which Turkey wants to join, has also cautioned against such moves.

Turkey says the EU is not living up to a promise made at an October 2002 summit to have "permanent and continuing consultations with the non-EU European allies, covering the full range of security, defence and crisis management issues".

It also accuses non-NATO EU member Cyprus of vetoing its bid to become an associate member of the European Defence Agency, the body coordinating reforms of the EU's defence sectors. That issue is not explicitly addressed by the French initiative.

Diplomats said France could officially present its proposals to EU partners as early as next week. Ankara is cautiously welcoming the move while stressing it wants to see results.

"It should not be just on paper but should mean concrete steps. But that doesn't mean this is not a positive development, coming from a major EU state," said one Turkish source.

"We want to become more involved in European security and development policy and so we think there should be better modalities (for us to do so)."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made it clear he opposes Turkey's bid for membership of the 27-member EU.

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