The Latest: Lecointre to be France's top military official

FILE - In this March 5, 2013 file photo, French Gen. Francois Lecointre, speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels. Lecointre, who led EU training mission in Mali, is to be new French military chief after predecessor quit in dispute with French President Emmanuel Macron. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
FILE - In this July 14, 2017 file photo, French Army Chief of Staff, General Pierre de Villiers, and French President Emmanuel Macron stand in the command car during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. France's military chief has quit over a dispute with Macron over defense spending, in a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms. (Etienne Laurent/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this July 14, 2017 file photo, French Army Chief of Staff, General Pierre de Villiers, arrives to attend the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. France's military chief has quit over a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron over defense spending, in a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms. (Etienne Laurent/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this July 14, 2017 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Pierre de Villiers, right, drive down the Champs Elysees avenue during Bastille Day parade in Paris. France's military chief has quit over a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron over defense spending, in a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms.(AP/Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
FILE - In this March 5, 2013 file photo, French Gen. Francois Lecointre, speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels. Lecointre, who led EU training mission in Mali, is to be new French military chief after predecessor quit in dispute with French President Emmanuel Macron. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

PARIS — The Latest on the departure of France's military chief (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Francois Lecointre, a career military officer who led the EU military training mission in Mali, is to be named France's new military official, after his predecessor quit in a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner confirmed the appointment Wednesday.

Lecointre served in Sarajevo during the Yugoslavia wars in the 1990s and recently led the mission in Mali to help fight Islamic extremists.

Earlier in the day, Gen. Pierre de Villiers submitted his resignation after a clash with Macron over budget cuts, a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms.

Macron's office sought to play down tensions over de Villiers departure, but French defense commentators described their public dispute as a serious crisis.

___

10:30 a.m.

France's military chief has quit in a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron over budget cuts, a new challenge to Macron's administration and his economic reforms.

The office of Gen. Pierre de Villiers, chief of staff of the armed forces, said he submitted his resignation to Macron at a security council meeting Wednesday. Macron's office did not immediately comment.

De Villiers lashed out at new spending curbs during a closed-door parliamentary commission meeting last week, according to leaked reports.

Macron then publicly upbraided him, saying, "it is not dignified to air certain debates in the public sphere. I made commitments (to budget cuts). I am your boss."

Macron has promised to boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2025 as part of France's commitments to NATO, but his budget minister last week announced limits on this year's military expenses.

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