France invites AFP to Pacific war games
France has invited the Philippines to join a major multinational exercise it will be spearheading as part of its efforts to shore up security partnerships in the region.
Visiting Rear Adm. Geoffroy d’Andigné, commander of the French Armed Forces in the Asia-Pacific, extended the invitation to the Marara exercise in 2024 during a meeting with Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. this week, the French Embassy said on Twitter on Thursday.
The Marara exercise in French Polynesia brings together partner countries in the Pacific to address disaster response and other contingencies. France has sent observers to the Balikatan and Sama-Sama exercises of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In May, the Philippines also sent observers to the 12-day Croix du Sud (Southern Cross), a multinational exercise focused on disaster crisis management in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, d’Andigné said that France was hoping to cooperate with the Philippines on disaster response and maritime security.
His visit coincided with the stopover of the French destroyer FNS Lorraine, which left Manila on Thursday after a weeklong port call as part of an inaugural deployment before its formal commissioning.
The deployment of a French naval warship to the region was part of Paris’ commitment to defend the principles of freedom of navigation and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific amid concerns about China’s increasing assertiveness. “We want to make sure the principles of [the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] are applied,” d’Andigné said.
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