New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held the 4th India-France Annual Defence Dialogue with his French counterpart, Sebastien Lecornu in New Delhi on Monday.
The ministers reviewed the ongoing military-to-military cooperation which has “increased substantially” in the recent years. They also discussed means to strengthen maritime cooperation and increase the scope and complexity of bilateral exercises.
According to the Defence Ministry, during the dialogue, one of the key areas of discussion was defence industrial cooperation with a focus on ‘Make in India’.
Future collaborations and potential co-production opportunities were also discussed during the dialogue.
The ministers agreed that the technical groups from both the countries should meet early next year and take the key cooperation issues forward, a Defence Ministry official said.
After the meeting, Singh said, “The meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere. A wide range of bilateral, regional, defence and defence industrial cooperation issues were discussed in the dialogue.”
The ministers noted with satisfaction that India and France recently held their bilateral Air Exercise ‘Garuda’ at Air Force Station, Jodhpur successfully, the official added.
The ministers recognised their convergences on number of strategic and defence issues and shared the commitment to work together on enhancing cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral fora, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
After the meeting, the Defence Ministry said that France is the current chair of Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and Indian Scan Naval Symposium (IONS), and both countries cooperate closely in these fora.
As part of his visit to India, Sebastien Lecornu also made a day-long trip to Headquarters, Southern Naval Command and visited India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The French Minister of Armed Forces stated that he was highly impressed with INS Vikrant.
France is one of India’s most trusted strategic partners and both countries look forward to celebrate 25 years of their strategic partnership in 2023, the official added.