30 Jun 2011

First time for France in Tonga-US military exercise

6:58 pm on 30 June 2011

Tonga's annual military exercise with the United States in August will include France this year for the first time.

The French defence attache to Tonga and Fiji has joined US military officials and the Tonga Defence Services in the capital, Nuku'alofa, this week for talks about the exercise, Tafakula.

A spokesperson for Tonga Defence Services says Tafakula began as a national exercise in 1985 and was joined by the US in 1991.

Lieutenant Commander Solomon Sevelio says the defence relationship between Tonga and France has always been close.

"So it's an important part of our co-operations in the Pacific to have the French participate in this annual exercise in order to enhance the inter-operability in working together."

Lieutenant Commander Solomon Sevelio says Tafakula will be held on Tongatapu from August the eighth to the 26th.