Two more ships of the French fleet, the helicopter-carrier Jeanne d'Arc and escort vessel Forbin, have arrived in the Indian Ocean port of Djibouti, capital of the French-controlled Territory of the Afars and Issas, to reinforce the French naval presence in the area.
GV & SV French ship enters port (2 shots)
SV Ships of French fleet anchored
GV & SV Military band playing on quayside
SV French ship with naval ratings on deck
SV French high commissioner M. Dablanc gets out of car and up gangplank
CU Police motor cyclists
SV President of the Council of Government Ali Aref Bourhan and wife board ship (Jeanne d'Arc)
GV French fleet in port
Initials BB/1810 EW/JB/BB/1745
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Background: Two more ships of the French fleet, the helicopter-carrier Jeanne d'Arc and escort vessel Forbin, have arrived in the Indian Ocean port of Djibouti, capital of the French-controlled Territory of the Afars and Issas, to reinforce the French naval presence in the area.
Djibouti is the last port on the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea is still in western hands. Concern has grown recently over the number of Soviet vessels sailing the Indian Ocean waters.
The future of Djibouti as a French base is uncertain. The French government has indicated that it is ready to discuss independence terms with the Territory's Chief Minister, Mr. Ali Aref Bourhan, before the end of the year. Mr. Ali Aref is known to favour continued French military and economic aid to the colony after independence.
But his is a standpoint strongly attacked by local opposition groups on all counts. It also conflicts with the call made recently by President Muhammed Siad Barre, head of state of neighbouring Somalia, for a complete demilitarisation of the Indian Ocean.
President Barre has also warned France that if control of the Territory is given to Mr. Ali Aref and his party following independence, blood would flow in clashes with the Somali-backed militant Front for the Liberation of the Somali Coast.
In the past both Somalia and Ethiopia, have claimed the Territory, but Ethiopia -- whose military rulers now seem preoccupied with internal affairs -- has recently expressed support for Mr. Ali aref and his policies.
On Thursday (11 December), the United Nations passed a resolution calling on France to speed independence plans for the Territory -- a call echoed by the Organisation of African Unity.
The French force in Djibouti now comprises of some 5,000 troops and Foreign Legionnaires stationed in the capital and its environs, plus the regular naval force.
The Jeanne d'Arc and the Forbin will be joined by more ships of the group after the Christmas holidays. They relieve the group "Neree" at present completing a tour of Indian Ocean duty.
The Djibouti posting has given more than 140 French naval and military cadets the opportunity to complete their training with a spell of overseas duty in the sunshine.
SYNOPSIS: The French naval presence in the Indian Ocean has been reinforced by the arrival of two more ships in the port of Djibouti, capital of the French-controlled territory of the Afars and Issas. Djibouti's the last east African port remaining in western hands ... and its importance has increased in line with concern over the number of Soviet vessels in the area.
A military band lined the quayside to welcome the vessels, the helicopter-carrier Jeane d'Arc and escort ship, the Forbin. On board are more than 140 naval and military cadets completing their training with a tour of overseas duty in the sunshine.
French High Commissioner, Monsieur Francois Christian Dablanc was there to welcome formally the vessel' commanders. The Jeanne d'Arc and the Forbin relieve vessels of the Neree group returning to France for Christmas. They'll be joined by sister ships later.
The Territory's Chief Minister, Mr. Ali Aref Bourhan also called on the newly-arrived commanders. Mr. Ali Aref's expected to begin independence discussions soon ... and has called for continued French aid, despite a demand by neighbouring Somalia for complete demilitarisation of the Indian Ocean.