Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Libya seeks to boost naval ties with France

Discussions over how to strengthen ties between the Libyan and French navies took place in Tripoli on Sunday, when navy chief of staff Hassan Boushnak met the with commander of a visiting French frigate.
Boushnak met the captain of the French stealth frigate Aconit, Olivier de Saint Julien, at a naval base in the capital, where the pair talked about increasing cooperation between the forces, sharing intelligence and joint training.
Saint Julien took part in NATO operations against Qaddafi during the 2011 revolution on board the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and this is the Aconit’s first visit to Libya since its involvement in last year’s conflict.
Saint Julien said in a statement that his discussions with Boushnak had focused on cooperation in the future, but said he and his crew were delighted to be in Libya to establish ties between the navies.
He added that a number of Libyan naval personnel will tour military bases in France soon, although he did not specify when the visit would take place or how many officers had been invited.
Boushnak said that the visit of the frigate, which will stay in Tripoli until 17 December, was part of a wider initiative aimed at strengthening maritime ties between France and Libya.
The two forces first started working together in November 2011, he said, when French naval personnel helped to clear mines and debris from fighting during the revolution from around Tripoli, as well as training Libyan divers.
At the time of the revolution, Libya’s fleet under Qaddafi was already run-down and outdated, and NATO bombing destroyed a number of its warships.

Since the end of fighting last year, efforts have been made to retrain naval personnel to help maintain Libya’s sea borders and prevent migrants travelling to Europe, with significant assistance from foreign navies.
A Libyan naval team visited Tripoli in September to help with training, and earlier this month officers from the Libyan armed forces attended a three-day seminar held by the British military, which also took place in Tripoli.

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