Turkish envoy to France Ismail Hakki Musa says Paris has notified NATO about its Courbet warship withdrawing from the sea after standoff with Turkish vessel.

In this May 11 2017 file photo, the French stealth frigate Courbet is docked at Naval Base Guam, near Hagatna, Guam.
In this May 11 2017 file photo, the French stealth frigate Courbet is docked at Naval Base Guam, near Hagatna, Guam. (AP)

France has pulled out of a NATO Mediterranean maritime security operation after an investigation into an incident between French and Turkish warships did not back Paris' claims.

"We have decided to temporarily withdraw our assets from the operation Sea Guardian", a French defence official, who asked not to be named, told reporters. 

Turkey's ambassador to France said that Paris had informed NATO it was suspending its involvement in a naval operation in the Mediterranean.

"It seems that NATO experts did not reach the same conclusion. I had the information yesterday, it seems that the Courbet is withdrawing from this NATO exercise," envoy Ismail Hakki Musa told a hearing in the French senate.

Turkey has proven through video footage and radar images that its ships have not engaged in any illegal activity in the Mediterranean Sea, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said previously.

Ties between NATO allies France and Turkey have soured in recent weeks over Libya, northern Syria, and drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.

READ MORE: Turkish naval strength in Eastern Mediterranean shifts balance of power

France has been especially angry after accusing Turkish warships of being aggressive towards its Courbet warship after it attempted to inspect a vessel in June that it suspected was violating a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.

The Courbet was operating in the NATO Sea Guardian operation.

NATO opened an investigation after France protested during an alliance defence ministers meeting in June.

READ MORE: Turkey rejects claims its ships harassed French vessel in Mediterranean

Turkey rejects French claim

French newspaper L'Opinion reported on Wednesday that France had sent a letter to NATO informing the alliance of its decision to suspend its role in operation Sea Guardian until it had clarifications.

The French Armed Forces Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Allied Maritime Command, which heads up Sea Guardian, did not immediately respond for comment.

France has said that on June 10 Turkish warships flashed their radar lights three times at the Courbet and that Turkish sailors had also put on bullet-proof vests and stood behind their light weapons during the incident.

Musa denied the French account and told senators that it was the French warship that had been aggressive.

Source: Reuters