Major units of the French Indian Ocean fleet arrived in Djibouti in the Territory of the Afars and the Assas on sunday (4 April).
GV PAN FROM ships in harbour TO French ships entering harbour
GV escort vessel accompanying destroyer 'Du Chayla'
GV 'Du Chayla' (5 shots)
GV bow of 'Duchayla"
GV attack submarine 'Marsouin" next to support ship 'Le Rhone' with support ship 'Le Rhone' with support ship 'La Garonne' in background (2 shots)
GV guns and missiles on 'Duchayla' (3 shots)
GV PAN Helicopter with carrier 'Jeanne D'Arc' and docks
Initials RH/1629 RH/PK/PNG/1644
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Background: Major units of the French Indian Ocean fleet arrived in Djibouti in the Territory of the Afars and the Assas on sunday (4 April). The French government said its naval presence has a twin role - to counter increasing tension over the future of the strategically important French African dependency and, the alleged build up of Soviet naval strength in the Indian Ocean based mainly off the Somali prot of Berbera.
Djibouti, the capital of the Afars and the Issas, is of major importance because it, with Aden, lies on the Red Sea route to the re-opened Suez Canal. The territory, an enclave sandwiches between Somalia and Ethiopia, has been the centre of growing tension between Somali backed Front for the Liberation of the Somali Coast (F.L.C.S) for Afars and Issas.
Talks between france and Somalia on normalising their relations, and independence for the Afars and the Issas broke down last month because, Somalia claimed, the French attitude was unreasonable and unacceptable. Somalia also alleged French troops had attacked the border town of Loyada the previous month.
France plans to hold a referendum this year on independence for the territory.
Meanwhile, French and United States navy experts estimate that the Soviet Navy has at least 20 surface ships - operating in the Indian Ocean, plus an unspecified number of submarines.
Should the French loose their naval base at Djibouti, the Soviet Union which also uses naval facilities at Aden - would, naval experts fear, hold the key to the door of the Red Sea.
SYNOPSIS: Djibouti, with units of the French Ocean fleet entering the strategically important port of the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas.
The French government says its naval presence there serves a dual purpose. To counter increasing tension over the future of the territory and the alleged build up in Soviet naval strength in the Indian Ocean, based mainly on the neighbouring So mali port of Berbera.
Djibouti is of major importance because,, with Aden, it lies on the Red Sea route to the re-opened Suez Canal. The territory has been the centre of growing unrest between Somalia and France over demands for its total independence.
The demands come from the Somali backed Front for the Liberation of the Somali coast in the territory. It has rejected plans for a referendum on independence but French plans to retain naval facilities after independence.