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Pals on advanced defence technology, not on Ukraine

India and France express serious concern at the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in the country
Macron and Modi are locked in a hug at the Elysee palace  in Paris on Wednesday.
Macron and Modi are locked in a hug at the Elysee palace in Paris on Wednesday.

Anita Joshua   |   New Delhi   |   Published 06.05.22, 02:09 AM

Developments related to Ukraine and defence cooperation aimed at greater involvement of France in India’s efforts to indigenise advanced defence technology and manufacturing topped the agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday.

This was Macron’s first meeting with a head of State or government since his re-election late last month and the two leaders reiterated both countries’ historical commitment to a multipolar world at a time when the Ukraine crisis is engineering a realignment of forces.


“The strategic partnership is anchored on the solid bedrock of deep and consistent mutual trust, abiding faith in strategic autonomy, unwavering commitment to international law; and belief in a multipolar world shaped by reformed and effective multilateralism,” the joint statement issued after the brief visit stated.

As has been the case in the joint statements issued with Germany, Denmark and after the second Indo-Nordic summit during Modi’s three-nation Europe tour, India differed with France on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, shying away from condemning Russia.

In the joint statement, France said it “reiterates its strong condemnation of the unlawful and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine by Russian Forces”. Similar formulation was part of the earlier joint statements also.

At the same time, India and France expressed serious concern at the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

“They unequivocally condemned civilian deaths in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to bring parties together to promote dialogue and diplomacy to find an immediate end to the suffering of the people. Both countries underlined the need to respect UN Charter, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. The two leaders discussed the regional and global implications of the conflict in Ukraine and agreed to intensify coordination on the issue.”

Macron, like Modi, is considered to have an equation with President Vladimir Putin and had, in a bid to ease tensions, visited Moscow before the start of the Russian “military operation” against Ukraine.

On strategic cooperation, Modi and Macron billed the long-standing armament cooperation as a testimony to the mutual trust between India and France. “The six Scorpene submarines built at MDL in Mumbai illustrates the level of transfer of technology from France to India, in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative,” the statement said.

“As seen in the timely delivery of the Rafale despite the pandemic, the two sides enjoy synergy in the field of defence. Taking forward this momentum, and based on their mutual trust, both sides agreed to find creative ways for France’s deeper involvement in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-reliant India) efforts in advanced defence technology, manufacturing and exports, including through encouraging increased industry to industry partnerships,” the joint statement added.

It dwelt on the Indo-Pacific where France is fairly invested because of its overseas territories. Also, 93 per cent of France’s exclusive economic zones are located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Flagging the fact that India and France have built a premier strategic partnership for advancing peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, the two sides agreed that besides bilateral cooperation they would continue to develop new alliances in various formats with like-minded countries in the region and within regional organisations.

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