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

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.

N.Korea missile launch 'absolutely unacceptable': Abe
London (AFP) April 29, 2017 - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday called North Korea's test-fire of a ballistic missile "absolutely unacceptable" and a "grave threat to our country".

Speaking in London, Abe called upon the international community, in particular China, to "show solidarity" in formulating a response.

"There is a major crisis looming over the peace and prosperity of the world," he told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to Russia and Britain.

"Despite strong warnings by the international community, North Korea today went through with its ballistic missile launch.

"It is a grave threat to our country, this is absolutely not acceptable, we strongly condemn such acts.

"Our country will be resolute in our response," he vowed.

North Korea test-fired the missile Saturday in apparent defiance of a concerted US push for tougher international sanctions to curb Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions.

The latest launch, which South Korea said was a failure, came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Security Council of "catastrophic consequences" if the international community -- most notably China -- failed to pressure the North into abandoning its weapons programme.

Abe said G7 leaders meeting in Italy next month, "shoulder a huge responsibility" in responding to the threat.

"The international community must display solidarity," he said, adding that he had agreed with Russia President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that Russia, China, Japan, US and South Korea all needed to cooperate closely on the issue.

He singled out China as being "extremely important" in resolving the crisis given its UN Security Council role and that it accounts for 90 percent of North Korea's trade.

"For the denuclearisation of North Korea, I hope China will play a constructive role in the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions. It is my high expectation that China will perform its role properly."

US vows to force N.Korea back to nuclear talks
Washington (AFP) April 27, 2017
The United States pledged Wednesday to step up sanctions to force North Korea to resume dialogue over its nuclear program, but said it was not looking to bring Kim Jong-Un's regime to its knees. After briefing senators at the White House, top US officials said President Donald Trump also aimed to pursue diplomatic measures with allies and regional partners. "We are engaging responsible m ... read more

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French ship in Japan for naval drill as N.Korea tensions rise French ship in Japan for naval drill as N.Korea tensions rise Reviewed by Defense Alert on 07:13:00 Rating: 5

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