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France to withdraw aircraft carrier from Libya mission for maintenance

(Xinhua)

09:26, August 05, 2011

France will withdraw its sole aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle from its Libya mission on Aug. 10 for maintenance, local media quoted French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet as saying on Thursday.

In an interview with the French daily Var-Matin, Longuet said the Chales de Gaulle battle team needed technical checks and personnel rest after participating in the NATO-led Libya operation for almost five months.

The aircraft carrier would depart from Libya at the latest on Aug. 10 and later dock at the port of Toulon, a French coastal city along the Mediterranean before Aug. 15, the minister said.

Maintenance of the aircraft carrier is expected to last for weeks, as new pilots will be trained during the period.

Longuet did not reveal whether the aircraft carrier would return to the battle field or not.

However, the minister repeated France's firm stance against the Tripoli government under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi and pledged a lasting French role in the coalition military mission "until the end."

Earlier reports had suggested that France planned to withdraw the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in autumn this year.

France spearheaded the military strike against forces supporting Gaddafi on March 19 and sent out its only aircraft carrier to join the operation on the second day.

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