India and France discussed cooperation on issues ranging from defence and counter-terrorism to civil nuclear energy and reiterated their commitment to an inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific during their annual strategic dialogue.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Emmanuel Bonne, diplomatic advisor to the French president, participated in the dialogue in New Delhi on Thursday. Bonne, who is France’s Sherpa for the G7 and G20, also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Rajnath Singh, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla.
The agenda for the strategic dialogue included defence and security, key international and regional issues, including the Indo-Pacific, counter-terrorism, cyber-security, and cooperation in space and civil nuclear energy.
“On each topic, the two sides noted the high degree of convergence of views and agreed on concrete steps to further enhance their cooperation. In particular, they reiterated their attachment to an inclusive, rules-based Indo-Pacific which contributes to a multipolar Asia in a multipolar world,” the French embassy said in a statement.
In his meetings with the Indian leadership, Bonne conveyed President Emmanuel Macron’s wish to further strengthen the relationship of trust and friendship with India. “Indo-French cooperation will be key to tackling global challenges in 2021, such as ensuring equal and universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, protecting climate and biodiversity, and building a renewed multilateralism,” the statement said.
In this respect, Bonne said France will work closely with India in the UN Security Council in 2021-22 and reiterated his country’s support for India’s bid for a permanent seat in the council. India recently began a two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
The external affairs ministry said that both sides highlighted the convergence of views on a range of issues.
France and India established a strategic partnership in 1998 that has grown in scope and depth. France has also backed India’s efforts to counter terrorism at multilateral bodies such as the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).