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India may seek access to French naval assets in Indian Ocean region

Maritime security and nuclear cooperation will be the two major issues that will figure prominently when the French President Emmanuel Macron holds discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India this week. As part of defense cooperation between the two countries India may ask for access to French naval assets in the Indian Ocean region to counter the Chinese naval presence.

While the Group comprising India, Japan, Australia and the US have forged an informal alliance to counter the growing presence of Chinese navy both in the Indian Ocean region and in India Pacific space, India and France have found much to be close about in the Indian Ocean. The two countries have realized that the way forward is to forge close bilateral cooperation to deal with the situation.

India and France are also hoping to get an agreement between NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) and EDF (of France) on six nuclear reactors that could lead to greater indigenization of components and services for the reactors.

During Macron's visit, India and France are expected to sign agreements that will allow India logistics access to French military bases in the Indian Ocean. Both the countries have a shared concern in the Indian Ocean Region excessive presence of Chinese navy and rapid building of naval assets in the area by BeijingRecommended By Colombia


France remains the largest resident power in the Indian Ocean with the largest amount of real estate, including about 11 million sq km of exclusive economic zone particularly in the Mozambique channel with over 10 islands as part of French overseas territories. For France's military bases in Djibouti, Abu Dhabi and Reunion Islands, India regards it as an attractive strategic partner here.

Speaking to journalists on the eve of French Presidentís visit to India, its ambassador in India Alexander Ziegler said, "We are looking for structured and operational cooperation in defense and security in the Indian Ocean region." He attributed the bilateral nature of the relationship to the high level of trust between France and India.

At some point, the two countries might open this cooperation in a broader format, inviting perhaps Australia, with whom France enjoys a similar relationship, given French assets in the South Pacific. With India and UAE deepening their own defence and security relationship, Abu Dhabi could also become a future partner.


Carnegie India, in a recent report on India-France cooperation in the Indian Ocean, said India should support France's full membership of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) while France could help India enter the Indian Ocean Commission.
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