U.S. to France: Don't Sell Russia Ships

    The Mistral, a French navy amphibious assault ship, is fueled by the Brazilian navy's tanker ship Gastao Motta, during search operations for victims of Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean, some 745 miles (1,200 km) northeast of Recife, in this handout photo distributed by the Brazilian Navy June 13, 2009. An Air France Airbus 330 crashed into the sea on June 1 en route from Brazil to Paris, killing all 228 aboard. REUTERS/Brazilian Navy/Handout (BRAZIL TRANSPORT DISASTER MILITARY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTR24MR9

    Ho New/Reuters

    For four years, the U.S. has been urging France not to go ahead with the sale of two amphibious assault ships to Russia, and on Tuesday the U.S. again reiterated its opposition to the sale, especially in light of Russia's annexation of Crimea and massing of 40,000 troops on Ukraine border. During Tuesday's visit, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said his government will decide in October whether to sell Russia the ships, but noted that he believes France has maintained the correct balance between "dialogue and firmness" in dealing with Russia. The sale, which would pay France $1.6 billion, is being held up as an instance of European countries putting business with Moscow ahead of much-needed unity in standing up to Vladimir Putin.

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