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French naval ships enroute to South China Sea makes a brief stop in an Indian port.

Image Credit: archyde.com

On Tuesday, the French naval ships Surcouf, a frigate and Tonnerre, an amphibious assault ship arrived in the Indian port of Kochi before making their way to the South China Sea to carry out a freedom of navigation operation.

The operation named Mission Jeanne D’arc 2021 will reach Japan after transiting through South China Sea twice. The mission will also serve to train French Navy officers, interoperability, security cooperation and extending operational capabilities.

Recently, France sent a nuclear submarine to the South China Sea as a freedom of navigation operation.

China is claiming most of the South China sea as theirs, and has warned countries in the region not to enter their territory. The region is believed to have oil and gas deposits. Around 1.3 million square miles of South China sea is claimed by China. Several years ago, satellite images showed China carrying out land reclamation on reefs to bolster their claim on the territory. On these lands China built military bases, some of which included runways.

This has infuriated several countries, which all have a rightful claim in the South China sea. These are Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

A number of countries such as Germany and United States also conducted freedom of navigation operations to challenge China’s unrightful claim of most of the sea.

Indian navy released a statement about France and Indian military cooperation.

Interactions between India and France have evolved into a strong partnership especially in the domain of maritime security. The regular conduct of bilateral exercises, goodwill visits by ships and high level delegation visits involving both the navies are indicative of growth in mutual cooperation and jointmanship.

Indian Navy

The French naval ships will depart Kochi on April 1st.

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