INDIA: In their first bilateral meeting since French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected last month following a tough election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron reviewed the situation in Ukraine and defence cooperation on Wednesday.
The two leaders met late Wednesday in Paris, and a summary of their discussion was released early Thursday. Modi stopped in Paris for a quick chat with Macron on his way back to New Delhi after a tour of Germany and Denmark.
“France reiterates its strong condemnation of Russian Forces’ unlawful and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine,” the joint statement said, a unilateral statement demonstrating the gap between New Delhi and Paris.
“India and France voiced significant concern about the continued violence and humanitarian disaster in Ukraine,” the statement added.
“They categorically condemned civilian casualties in Ukraine and demanded an urgent halt to hostilities to bring parties together to encourage dialogue and diplomacy to put an end to the people’s suffering.”
Both countries emphasised the importance of upholding the UN Charter, international law, and states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.The two leaders reviewed the situation in Ukraine’s regional and global ramifications and decided to further up coordination on the subject.
India and France also expressed “deep concern” about the current deterioration of global food security and nutrition, which has already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in developing countries.
They are committed to enabling a coordinated, multilateral response to address the risk of aggravated food crisis because of the conflict in Ukraine, including through initiatives such as the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM), which aims at ensuring well-functioning markets, solidarity, and long-term resilience.
In terms of defence cooperation, both sides praised the continuous close cooperation in all areas of defence. Joint exercises (Shakti, Varuna, Pegase, Desert Knight, Garuda) that “illustrate attempts to improve integration and interoperability whenever practicable.”
India and France said, “long-standing armament cooperation is proof of the mutual trust between the two sides,” India and France said. The six Scorpene submarines built at MDL in Mumbai show the extent of technology transfer from France to India as part of the “Make in India” initiative.
“The two sides enjoy synergy in the realm of defence, as seen by the timely delivery of the Rafale despite the epidemic. Continuing this momentum, and based on mutual trust, both sides agreed to find innovative ways for France to become more involved in India’s “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (Self-reliant India) efforts in advanced defence technology, manufacturing, and exports, including by encouraging increased industry-to-industry partnerships,” according to the joint statement.
“Maritime cooperation between India and France has reached new levels of trust,” the statement continued, “and will continue through drills, exchanges, and cooperative endeavors throughout the Indian Ocean.”
According to the joint statement, India and France have developed one of the most nuanced strategic alliances for furthering peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
“They share a vision of an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, and rules-based, founded on international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, freedom of passage, and a region free of coercion, tensions, and wars.”
According to the statement, the Indo-French Indo-Pacific relationship also covers defense and security, commerce, investment, connectivity, health, and sustainability.
“In addition to bilateral collaboration, India and France will continue to build new partnerships in various formats with like-minded countries in the area and within regional organisations,” the statement said.
During the French presidency of the Council of the EU in February 2022, the first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum in Paris set an ambitious agenda at the EU level based on the EU Strategy for Indo-Pacific Cooperation.