Russia-Ukraine War & Afghanistan in backdrop, India & France hold strategic dialogue

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 5: Amid fluid global situations, India and France on Thursday held their 36th Strategic Dialogue, first held in 1998, in the national capital. India and France have the rare open channels with Russia amid the Ukraine War staying on an extended course.

“India and France discussed wide-ranging bilateral and global issues,” said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement. The Indian delegation was led by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The French delegation was led by Emmanuel Bonne, who is also the diplomatic advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters that India and France held discussions on issues, including the current global security situation in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine War. “Discussion over regional security in the context of Afghanistan and cyber security was also taken up,” he added.

The two sides committed to deepen three pillars of the India-France strategic partnership — defence to counter-terrorism, civilian nuclear energy, space and cybersecurity. France is the only western country which shares defence technology with India. France, thus, is critical to the Indian bid to modernize its defence forces and also gain self-reliance in the productions of the defence goods.

The meeting has also come in the backdrop of the rising concerns of Afghanistan becoming a terror hotspot. India has sought to bring the issue of terrorism to the global centre stage having strongly making a case for an unbiased united response from the forum of the United Nations Security Council as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Incidentally, Russia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are also growing wary of the rise of terror outfits in Afghanistan. Doval has hosted his SCO counterparts in the national capital recently to take stock of the situations in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Macron share bonhomie, which has been reflected in the deepening of the strategic ties between India and France in the last eight years, with the induction of the Rafale fighter jets in the Indian Air Force. The spinoff of the Rafale deal has also led to a slew of the Indian companies joining hands with the French companies for the join productions of the defence goods. Unlike the US and the UK, France is held in good esteem in India for sharing the defence technology with India.

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