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France Says Will Not Sell Weapons to China

FILE - The Mistral helicopter assault ship Vladivostok, which Russia ordered from France, is seen at France's Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire, Sept. 4, 2014.

France says there will be no weapons sales to China, following earlier speculation that France might consider selling two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Beijing.

After a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at the Pentagon on Monday, French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian denied the wide spread speculation of possible arms sales to China.

“There is an embargo on any sale of weapon to China, which we will respect,” Le Drian told VOA's Mandarin Service.

France was one of the members of the European Union who imposed an embargo on weapon exports to China, a measure taken after Beijing violently cracked down student protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 1989.

In May, France sent a Mistral-class amphibian ship to China to participate in a joint maritime exercise with China’s People’s Liberation Army, prompting widespread speculation that France was considering sale of two warships of the same class which were built for Russia. France suspended indefinitely the delivery of the first of the carriers ordered by Russia because of the conflict in Ukraine.

The Mistral-class warship is considered the most advanced warship of its kind in the French navy.

The Pentagon was said to be concerned about the possible sale to China. However, in a statement sent to VOA Mandarin Service on Monday, the Pentagon Press Office said the possible ship deal between France and China was not on the agenda ahead of the meeting between Secretary Carter and the French Defense Minister, and did not come up during the actual talks.

At the Monday news conference, Carter called France one of U.S. strongest allies. “This is the best of our defense relationship that it has been in a very long time, probably ever,” he said.

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