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Four-Nation Military Drills Begin Again Near Guam

  • Associated Press

FS Mistral, a French amphibious assault ship, pulls into port at Naval Base Guam, May 11, 2017, near Hagatna, Guam. Troops from the United States, Japan, France and the United Kingdom are gathering for drills they say will show support for the free passage of vessels in international waters.

Multinational amphibious exercises on the U.S. Pacific island of Guam were moving ahead as scheduled Saturday, one day after being suspended when a French landing craft ran aground.

First Lt. Joshua Hays, a spokesman for the U.S. 3rd Marine Division, said Japanese soldiers will practice rubber craft raids. On Sunday, U.S. Marines plan to conduct live-fire training with French troops, training that was originally scheduled for Saturday.

The weeklong drills involve U.S., British, French and Japanese troops. They’re intended to show support for the free passage of vessels in international waters amid concerns China may restrict access to the South China Sea.

They’re being held around Guam and Tinian islands, U.S. islands that are about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) south of Tokyo and east of Manila, Philippines.

The exercises feature two French ships currently on a four-month deployment to the Indian and Pacific oceans. Some 50 Japanese soldiers and 160 Japanese sailors were due to participate, along with U.K. helicopters and 70 U.K. troops deployed with one of the French ships.