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Kishida to ask France not to sell chopper equipment to China

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Tokyo next week to ask that Paris prevent helicopter landing equipment from being sold to China in light of the Senkaku Islands dispute, government officials said Thursday.

At the meeting Tuesday, Kishida plans to tell Fabius that China is likely to install the equipment on maritime surveillance vessels that have repeatedly intruded into Japanese waters around the contested isles in the East China Sea, the officials said.

The uninhabited islands have been administered by Japan for many years, but tensions have climbed since the Japanese government effectively nationalized the chain, called Diaoyu by China, last September by purchasing them from their Japanese owner over Beijing’s objections.

France has taken the position that the equipment is not for military use and is based on civilian technology, thereby complying with an EU ban on arms sales to China.

Tuesday’s so-called foreign ministerial strategic dialogue will be the third between Japan and France, following the first meeting in Tokyo in January last year and the second in Paris in October.

In addition to discussing major international affairs, Kishida and Fabius are expected to agree to speed up preparations for French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Japan planned in June.