India Sees France as Indispensable to Indo-Pacific Stability Amid Submarine Crisis
13:48 GMT 29.10.2021 (Updated: 08:57 GMT 15.11.2022)
© AP Photo / Manish SwarupIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top right, and French President Emmanuel Macron, top left, watch as Indian Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman, right, exchanges agreement files between India and France regarding the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces with France minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, in New Delhi, India, Saturday, March 10, 2018
© AP Photo / Manish Swarup
Australia announced a trilateral pact with the US and the UK on 15 September to receive US and British nuclear reactor technology, and build its own submarines. The arrangement cancelled a multi-billion diesel-electric submarine deal with France, triggering the fury of President Emmanuel Macron, who is up for re-election in April 2022.
Invoking "trust and transparency" as essential in changing global order, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has referred to France as a resident power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Although Jaishankar did not reference AUKUS directly, he said that Indo-French ties define a "relationship free from sudden shifts and surprises".
"India is at the strategic centre of this region; France its two bookends with a vast Exclusive Economic Zone. India sees France as a resident power in the Indo-Pacific region, indispensable to its peace and stability, and a premier partner for India in the region," Jaishankar said during Ambition India 2021, a conference held on Friday at the French Senate in Paris.
The foreign minister hopes to build a partnership with France that "must offer better alternatives to countries in the region and enable them to make sovereign and viable choices".
Highlighting France's role in building the European Union's strategy for the Indo-Pacific Region, the diplomat said New Delhi seeks to find support of the 27-member block to create a new framework for the region.
"We are entering a phase where politics will shape economic choices. France and India are fortunate to have the best of both – political trust and economic opportunities. And we must seize this window of opportunity," Jaishankar underscored.
These remarks by India's top diplomat came while France and the AUKUS partners -- Australia, the UK, and the US -- remain embroiled in a war of words over the new trilateral pact for the Indo-Pacific Region.
18 October 2021, 12:26 GMT
France said that it had been "blindsided" by its allies, which announced the pact on 15 September, and slammed the three countries' behaviour as "unacceptable".
The pact involves cancelling a $65 billion diesel-electric submarine deal with France, and enabling Canberra to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in Australian shipyards using American and British reactor technology.
Australia tried to justify its decision by highlighting the rapidly changing strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific with a renewed focus of global powers towards the region.
Soon after the announcement of AUKUS, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a call to Macron, reaffirming "their common will to collaborate in an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific area".
France has over 8,000 troops and over two dozen ships, planes, and helicopters stationed across the Indo-Pacific region. The country maintains its presence in the region via its overseas territories, and 93% of its exclusive economic zone is located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.