India and France held the 36th session of the Indo-French Strategic Dialogue and the two sides focused on the strategic partnership including defence and security cooperation; counter-terrorism, Indo-Pacific cooperation; cyber security; civil nuclear energy and space. Also on the agenda of talks was the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, major international and regional issues among other issues.
In the first bilateral visit of the year Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor and G7/G20 Sherpa to the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, held talks with his counterpart National Security Advisor Shri Ajit Doval in New Delhi.
The visit which is aimed to pave the way for an ambitious expansion of the Indo-French strategic partnership as it marks its 25th anniversary this year and the likely visit of the French President Macron in the first quarter of 2023.
During today’s talks, according to an official statement issued by the French embassy in New Delhi, the two sides agreed to raise the level of cooperation even further with the goal of accelerating efforts towards strategic autonomy.
According to the official spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi, he later called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also had a meeting with External affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and later with G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant.
The official statement of French Embassy New Delhi states that Bonne conveyed President Macron’s message that to tackle global challenges Indo-French cooperation would be the key, and he also stressed his country’s full support for India’s G20 presidency.
Reiterating France’s support for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council he also praised the excellent cooperation with India at the UNSC.
The countries established a strategic partnership in 1998. This has grown continuously in both scope and depth. It is based on mutual trust, joint vision for rules based as well as multipolar world order.
Was Rafale-M for the Indian Navy discussed?
According to sources Rafale-M 9the naval version of the fighter aircraft probably came up for discussion between the two sides; however there is no confirmation if anything has been firmed up.
As reported earlier in Financial Express Online, under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, India is looking towards the French side for making aircraft engines and is already in advanced stages of discussion with Safran. It is also looking at the Naval Group for Air Independent Propulsion systems for its `Scorpene’ class submarines. These submarines have been constructed under a joint venture between Mazagon Dockyard Limited and Naval Group of France.
It has been reported earlier that France has offered its help to India in case it has more requirements of additional fighter jets `Rafale’ which are already being flown by Indian Air Force (IAF). The French company Dassault Aviation has already worked with Indian companies by incorporating them in a broader global supply chain.
France extended its support in India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group (AG) and Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). And it continues India’s bid for accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Both countries have worked together to fight against terrorism and have also resolved to work towards adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN.