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NATO chiefs warn EU not to duplicate military resources

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) and Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Phillip Breedlove hold a joint news conference at the Supreme Headquarters Of Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in Mons March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - The civilian and military heads of NATO cautioned the European Union on Wednesday against duplicating efforts following remarks by the president of the EU Commission suggesting the bloc should develop an “EU army” to deter Russia.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of the Western defence alliance, told a news conference he would welcome increased European investment in defence, but said duplication would be inefficient.

“It’s important to avoid duplication and I urge Europe to make sure that everything they do is complementary to the NATO alliance,” he said.

General Philip Breedlove, the U.S. supreme commander of NATO forces, told the news conference he was “not concerned” by the comments at the weekend by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“But what we would like to avoid is any duplication because we need to smartly invest,” Breedlove said.

Juncker told a German newspaper on Sunday that the EU needed its own army to face up to a resurgent Russia and other threats as well as to restore the bloc’s foreign policy standing around the world.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Gareth Jones