India and France have agreed to unitedly deal with the menace of terrorism and the challenges in the Indo-Pacific, amid China flexing muscles in the strategically vital region.
A joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met French President Emmanuel Macron here on Wednesday said that the two countries were committed to the shared values of democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and respect for human rights.
It noted that India and France have built one of the premier strategic partnerships for advancing peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
They share a vision of a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, based on commitment to international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and a region free from coercion, tensions and conflicts, the joint statement said.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
“The Indo-France Indo-Pacific partnership encompasses defence and security, trade, investment, connectivity, health and sustainability. Besides bilateral cooperation, India and France will continue to develop new partnerships in various formats with like-minded countries in the region and within regional organisations,” the joint statement said.
The first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum held in Paris in February 2022 during the French presidency of the Council of the EU launched an ambitious agenda at the EU level based on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo Pacific, it noted.
The statement also asserted that counter-terrorism cooperation is a corner stone of the Indo-French strategic partnership, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
India and France “strongly condemned all forms of terrorism including use of terrorist proxies and cross-border terrorism,” in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
“They reiterated their resolve to closely work together in the common fight against global terrorism including through combating the financing of terrorism, countering radicalisation and violent extremism, preventing misuse of the internet for terrorist or violent extremist purpose, acting against internationally designated entities and individuals,” the statement said.
Both sides expressed their willingness to coordinate actively in the run up to the third edition of the “No Money for Terror international Conference to be hosted by India this year.
India and France reaffirmed their commitment to deepen India-European Union Strategic Partnership and look forward to working closely together in the implementation of the India-EU Connectivity Partnership and the decisions made at the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting in Porto in Portugal May 2021.
“They welcomed the recent launch of the India-EU Trade and Technology Council that will foster high level coordination on strategic aspects of trade, technology and security as well as the restart of negotiations on India-EU Agreements on Trade, Investment and Geographical Indicators,” the statement said.
India and France enjoy a robust economic partnership with a bilateral trade of $ 7.86 billion (2020-21) and cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $9.83 billion since April 2000.
Over a thousand French businesses are present in India across sectors like defence, IT, consulting, engineering services and heavy industries. Over 150 Indian companies in France employ more than 7,000 people.