India, France to Strengthen Ties as Macron Warns About 'Consequences' of Ukraine Conflict in Asia
India’s neutral stance on Ukraine served as a major focus of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-nation trip, which involved visits to Germany, Denmark and France. In spite of repeated efforts by Europe's leaders to draw India into their camp vis-à-vis Russia, the longstanding strategic ties between Moscow and Delhi remain unaffected.
India and France on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to a “free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific”, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron met for a summit meeting at Elysée Palace during the final leg of the Indian leader’s three-nation European tour.
A joint statement
released after the Modi-Macron meeting pledged both the government’s commitment to “international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and a region free from coercion, tensions and conflicts” in the Asia-Pacific region.
The "Indo-Pacific partnership encompasses defence and security, trade, investment, connectivity, health and sustainability”, underlined the joint statement between India and France.
Furthermore, both nations said that they would continue to develop “new partnerships” with “like-minded countries” in the Asia-Pacific region in order to advance their shared agenda.
Both governments have also said that they would “deepen” cooperation in enhancing cyber-security as well as in the domain of counter-terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region.
Ahead of the meeting with Modi, Macron told France’s state broadcaster that he would “emphasise the consequences” of the conflict in Ukraine for the international order, including in Asia, to the visiting Indian Prime Minister.
Since the eruption of the conflict in Ukraine, fears have been expressed by European leaders about the possibility of Beijing mounting an offensive to take over Taiwan, which it considers a renegade Chinese province.
Europe's comparisons have been flatly rejected by Beijing, which maintains that Taiwan is an “inalienable” part of China.
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has also stated that linking the Ukraine crisis to the 'Taiwan theatre'
isn't actually a feasible comparison.
During a visit to India in March, American Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh said that New Delhi must not count on Moscow’s support if China invaded Indian territory.
As per the joint statement, only France declared its “strong condemnation” of what it described as “unlawful and unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine by the Russian forces. However, a call for an “immediate cessation” of hostilities in Ukraine and an end to the “suffering of the people” was jointly issued by Modi and Macron.
During their summit-level meeting, the two leaders did acknowledge the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine on “global food security” as well as nutrition.
“They are committed to enabling a coordinated, multilateral response to address the risk of an aggravated food crisis because of the conflict in Ukraine,” the joint statement said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, geared at the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification" of Ukraine.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has been accused by Moscow of flouting its previous commitments to not expand the military alliance to the Russia’s border, against the backdrop of NATO incorporating new members in eastern Europe in five different phases since 1990.
India-France Defence Ties ‘In Line’ With New Delhi’s Policy, Says Foreign Secretary
Security collaboration between India and France in the Indian Ocean and the wider Asia-Pacific region was a major focus of talks between Modi and Macron.
At a press briefing detailing the outcomes of bilateral talks, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters that France and India are working towards the “co-development, co-designing and co-manufacturing” of advanced defence equipment and platforms in India.
“And I think what you also need to keep in mind is that this is also very much in sync and in line with our own domestic policy of Aatmnirbharta (achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing through transfer of technology),” the Indian official said.
India has sourced 36 multirole
, 4.5-generation Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a 2016-era inter-governmental arrangement priced at nearly $8.7 billion.
France’s Naval Group last month also announced the launch of the sixth and last Scorpene-class submarine
jointly developed with India’s Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders’ Limited under a 2005 deal involving the transfer of technology from France to India.