French President Emmanuel Macron announced a three pronged security partnership with India in the southern Indian Ocean in the backdrop of China’s growing ambitions in the region.
Macron said during his ongoing visit to Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean, on Friday that India and France were sharing the analysis of joint maritime security in the southern Indian Ocean, working on a joint maritime surveillance in the region and looking at possible deployment of an Indian Navy maritime patrol vessel in Reunion Island from the first quarter of 2020.
The French President’s comments came at the event where ministers of India, France and Vanilla Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean) met to explore economic and development partnership. India was represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the first such ministerial meet.
In an indirect reference to China’s designs on the western and southern Indian Ocean Region, the French President said in his speech, “We must protect the Great Indo-Pacific space for no hegemony to reign. A security presence in the region is essential for building this freedom in sovereignty and for establishing a common agenda.”
What are the key focus areas for partnership between India and France?
India, in partnership with France, is keen to focus on port development, blue economy, trade, connectivity, tourism, skill development, hospitality and healthcare in this resource-rich region, said people aware of the matter. India is also eyeing gas deposits in the Mozambique Channel near Vanilla Islands. The joint statement issued after Modi’s meeting with Macron on August 22 had indicated enhancement in the Indo-French partnership in the western Indian Ocean.