France describes India as Asia’s top strategic partner

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France on Wednesday described India as its “first” Asian strategic partner and said Defense Minister Florence Parly’s upcoming visit to the country aims to further strengthen “forward-looking” defense cooperation with New Delhi.

Parly will travel to India on Thursday for a ceremony in Ambala to induct the first batch of five Rafale jets into the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The French Minister of Defense will meet with her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh and national security adviser Ajit Doval.

The first batch of five Rafale planes arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an intergovernmental agreement with France to purchase 36 of these planes at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.

In a statement, the French embassy said the discussions would focus on maritime security relations in the Indo-Pacific, counterterrorism cooperation and strengthening the comprehensive bilateral defense partnership.

“Their wide-ranging discussions will focus, among other things, on the industrial and technological partnership within the framework of the Make in India program, operational defense cooperation, in particular maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, the modalities for continuing exercises. spouses of the armed forces in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, counterterrorism cooperation as well as major regional and international strategic issues, ”the embassy said.

He said the talks will advance French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to deepen and broaden the Franco-Indian partnership with strategic autonomy and the defense of a multipolar order as cornerstones.

This will be Parly’s third visit to India since 2017 and one of his very first official trips since the coronavirus outbreak, the embassy said.

The French Minister of Defense will be accompanied by senior executives from Dassault Aviation, Thales Group, Safran and MBDA, representing the French defense majors who have joined forces with many Indian companies as part of Operation Rafale.

The Rafale planes, produced by the French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, will be officially inducted into the IAF during the ceremony at Ambala air base on Thursday in the presence of Singh, Parly and several senior military officials.

During his visit to the nation’s capital, Parly will also pay floral tributes to the valiant Indian soldiers at the National War Memorial.

Ties between India and France have been booming in recent years, with cooperation having experienced major expansion in key areas.

The fields of defense and security, civil nuclear cooperation, and trade and investment constitute the main pillars of the Indo-French strategic partnership.

In addition, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation such as the Indian Ocean region, climate change and sustainable growth and development.

The two countries share a close degree of convergence on a range of regional and global issues as well as on ways to counter terrorism and extremism.

India and France both have significant bilateral investment and trade cooperation. France has become a major source of FDI in India with more than 1,000 French establishments operating in the country for a total turnover of around 20 billion USD.

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