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France confirms naval presence in Taiwan Strait

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Dupuy de Lôme. Photo: Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Paris, Oct. 13 (CNA) France's defense minister has warned escalating tensions between Taiwan and China could have dramatic consequences, after revealing one of the country's naval vessels had been present in the Taiwan Strait.

Defense Minister Florence Parly told a hearing of the country's senate on Tuesday that France would use its navy to demonstrate an adherence to international law and freedom of navigation, citing maneuvers by the signals intelligence vessel Dupuy-de-Lôme in the Taiwan Strait as evidence, without giving a date for the sailing.

The 3,600 ton Dupuy-de-Lôme, named after the 19th century engineer Henri Dupuy de Lôme, entered service with the French navy in April 2006. After being deployed to the Pacific in May, the ship was last spotted departing Japan on Oct. 1.

Parly had been responding to Senator Olivier Cadic, who had asked if any concrete action was being taken to back Paris' oft-expressed support for maintaining the cross-Strait status quo.

Cadic, vice president of the French senate's Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee, said Taipei was facing increased Chinese military intimidation, citing daily incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) as evidence.

The senator, who recently concluded a five-day trip to Taiwan, said the Taiwanese lawmakers he met during the trip expressed the wish for support from Paris in ensuring security in the Taiwan Strait.

Cadic was a member of a delegation of French senators that visited Taiwan from Oct. 6-10., which was led by Alain Richard, head of the French Senate's Taiwan Friendship Group and French defense minister from 1997 to 2002.

The delegation also included Max Brisson and Else Joseph, vice presidents of the Taiwan Friendship Group, as well as the group's secretary Judith Bout.

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