France will be sending one of its powerful Mistral amphibious carriers to lead drills on and around Tinian island in the western Pacific, with Japanese and U.S. personnel and two troop-carrying helicopters sent by Britain, two sources told Reuters.
“Rather than just being a naval exercise, this amphibious exercise will send a clear message to China,” said one of the sources, who were not authorized to talk to the media and so asked not to be identified.
The other source said, the exercise will take place in the second and third week of May.
Beijing is extending its influence beyond its coastal waters into the Pacific. The move worries Japan and the United States, but is also a concern for France which controls several Pacific island territories, including New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Japan’s Self Defense Forces said nothing had been decided when asked if there would be a joint amphibious exercise with France, the United States and Britain.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe travel today to Europe for talks with European Union leaders, which will include a meeting French President Francois Hollande.