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UPDATED: 10:12, June 29, 2005
German fighters to patrol Baltic airspace
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The Lithuanian Defense Ministry announced Tuesday that German fighters will begin to patrol the airspace of the three Baltic countries on July 1, reports from Lithuania said.

Four German F-4G jets will arrive at the Zokniai Airbase in northern Lithuania on Thursday and begin their three-month mission on Friday, said a spokesman for the Lithuanian Defense Ministry.

The Netherlands is currently on duty. Germany will be followed by the United States.

Since their accession to the alliance in March 2004, the airspace of the three countries -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- has been patrolled in turn by other NATO member countries, each for three months.

So far, Belgium, Denmark, Britain and Norway have completed their missions.

NATO decided on June 8 to extend the mission from three to four months to allow more time for patrol troops to familiarize themselves with the situation. Poland will become the first country to have a four-month term starting on Jan. 1, 2006.

Source: Xinhua

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