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Visit by aircraft carrier ‘proof of close relations’, French embassy says

File Photo: CNA

The arrival of French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle which will be docked at Limassol port for a week from Friday is proof of the close relations between the two countries, the French embassy to Nicosia said on Thursday.

Defence Minister Savvas Angelides, escorted by French Ambassador Isabelle Dumont, was to be flown by helicopter on Thursday afternoon to the aircraft carrier which was off Limassol, to meet its commanders and monitor operations. On board the vessel, there are 20 Rafale Marine fighter aircraft, two E-2C Hawkeye, one Caïman helicopter and two Dauphin Pedro helicopters.

The aircraft carrier will make a port call to Limassol from February 21 to 26. President Nicos Anastasiades and other government and military officials as well as members of the diplomatic corps serving in Cyprus are to attend the vessel on Saturday where a reception is to take place.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly was in Nicosia on Tuesday for meetings with the president and her Cypriot counterpart. She later visited French troops aboard the carrier.

The French embassy said that between February 21 to 26 part of the brigade, which will consist mainly of the Charles De Gaulle, the Var refuelling tanker and the Greek frigate Psara, will sail to the port of Limassol. The multi-purpose frigate Auvergne will sail to the port of Larnaca.

Following its departure from Toulon on January 21, 2019, the brigade formed a Task Force 473 around the Charles De Gaulle operating in the Middle East for the past four weeks as part of the international anti-ISIS coalition, before arriving in Limassol.

According to the statement, during its presence in the Cyprus area the French brigade conducted several exercises with the National Guard.

On departure from Toulon, the brigade consisted of Charles de Gaulle, its aircraft, the Auvergne, the anti-air frigate Chevalier Paul, The Var refueling tanker, the Greek frigate Spetsai and a nuclear attack submarine. Throughout the mission, French vessels, the BCR Somme, the BCR Marne, the FREMM Bretagne, the FREMM Normandie, the (FLF) Surcouf, the anti-submarine frigate La Motte-Picquet, and German, American, Belgian, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese vessels as well as an Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft accompany or interact with the brigade.

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