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The New Arab Staff

France deploys aircraft carrier to eastern Mediterranean in 'anti-IS operation'

The aircraft carrier was deployed for the first time since last year [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 January, 2021

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France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier was deployed to the eastern Mediterranean, Paris confirmed.
France deployed an aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean as part of operations led by the global coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, Paris said.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said "the next mission of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will be to reinforce our forces participating in a comprehensive operation", local media reported.

"The aircraft carrier will be located in the first half of this year in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, and this commitment confirms our will to fight terrorism permanently and unconditionally," she added.

This marks the first such mission undertaken by the French aircraft carrier since the beginning of 2020, when nearly two-thirds of its crew were infected with the coronavirus.

The return of the French aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean coincides with ongoing tensions with Turkey, due to differences over conflicts in Syria and Libya.

Tensions have also simmered over gas exploration work carried out by Turkey in waters contested by Greece and Cyprus.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wanted to improve relations with the European Union and was hoping for the same "goodwill" from the 27-nation bloc.

The Turkish leader has softened some of his toughest rhetoric and struck a more conciliatory tone in a televised meeting with EU ambassadors in a presidential compound in Ankara.

"We are ready to put our relations back on track," Erdogan told the ambassadors. 

"We expect our European friends to show the same goodwill." 

Turkey and Greece this week agreed to address their long-standing dispute over maritime borders at exploratory talks in Istanbul on 25 January.

The meeting will be the first since so-called "exploratory talks" between the two uneasy NATO neighbours were suspended after 60 fruitless rounds stretching 14 years in 2016.

"We believe that the exploratory talks... will be the harbinger of a new era," Erdogan said.

He also said he was open to better relations with Paris after months of personal feuds with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"We want to save our relations with France from tensions," Erdogan said.

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