France reinforces military in Djibouti following border clash 2008-06-14 21:09:59   Print

    PARIS, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The French authorities have moved to strengthen their military presence and support for the armed forces of Djibouti in the wake of a series of border incidents with Eritrea, the French Defense Ministry announced on Friday.

    "Paris is preparing to deploy a forward logistics base and a land force near the zone where the clashes took place," the French Defense Ministry announced, adding that "its military has stepped up air surveillance over the border to monitor the activities of Eritrean forces."

    France, which linked to Djibouti through a binding defense agreement, maintains its single large permanent military base in the country with about 2,900 soldiers, military ships and aircraft.

    Although no details have been made on the number of troops or material involved so far, there are reports that additional naval resources have been summoned to the volatile Horn of Africa region.

    Moreover, an additional team of military surgeons are on their way to the French military hospital in Djibouti, where over 40 Djibouti soldiers who were wounded in the two-day border skirmishes are receiving treatment.

    In another related development, French Defense Minister Herve Morin held discussions with his Djibouti's counterpart Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed on Friday and promised to strengthen the French military presence in the country in case there is "an escalation in the current border row."

    Reaffirming the "very great concern of France" over the recent border incidents, the French defense minister, according to diplomatic sources, has "reassured his counterpart of the full support" of Paris, at the same time calling for a "diplomatic" settlement of the issue.

    On Thursday, the French Defense Ministry had issued a statement announcing that France was already providing logistical assistance, including medical aid as well as military intelligence, to Djibouti forces.

    Eritrea on Thursday denied any hostile intentions towards neighboring Djibouti following Tuesday's border clash between them, during which Djibouti said at least two of its soldiers were killed and 21 others wounded.    

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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