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French ship in Japan for naval drill as N.Korea tensions rise

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French ship in Japan for naval drill as N.Korea tensions rise
A French navy ship arrives at the Sasebo naval base in southwestern Japan. Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP
09:31 CEST+02:00
A French warfare ship arrived in Japan Saturday for an international drill as tensions mounted over North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch in defiance of a US push for tougher global sanctions.

The amphibious assault ship arrived at the Sasebo naval base in southwestern Japan ahead of the first joint exercise among Japan, France, the US and the UK.

The drill comes as tensions run high in East Asia after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile early Saturday amid speculation that Pyongyang could conduct another nuclear test.

The drill will run from May 3 through May 22 in the waters surrounding Japan as well as the Pacific islands of Guam and Northern Marianas, according to Japan's Self Defence Forces.

As many as 700 military personnel are expected to take part in the Jeanne d'Arc mission for young officers, also to be joined by French frigate Courbet.

Some 60 British sailors as well as 220 Japanese military personnel will go on board the French vessels, along with their American counterparts.

The exercise "is designed to strengthen and to enhance trust and cooperation among the participating countries", Japan's Joint Staff said in a statement Friday.

The naval mission also coincided with a move by the US to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group to the western Pacific led by the USS Carl Vinson.

US President Donald Trump has warned of a "major conflict" with North Korea, and insisted that "all options are on the table" to stop its nuclear drive, hinting at possible military operations.

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