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AUKUS – The beginning of more strong relations of France with India

AUKUS – The beginning of more strong relations of France with India

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_Vinayak Barot

France’s open support to India in special sectors including defense is already a gigantic challenge for China and Pakistan but after the design of AUKUS, France consistently trying to develop its strategic and defense relations with India.

The France Envoy on the relations with India said “France has been on India’s side each time India needed us.”

Ever since AUKUS was signed, there have been multiple interactions between India and France at the highest levels. French President Emmanuel Macron had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his French counterpart on the sidelines of UNGA in New York.

AUKUS is a trilateral security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States for the Indo-Pacific region announced on September 15 this year. No Name of France in AUKUS sends a clear message to Paris government that India is the only strong option for France to tie up its strategic and defensive relations.

On the Indo-Pacific region, France envoy said that “the military confrontational bloc is not the answer to problems in the Indo-Pacific region and a much broader approach is needed.”

French envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain said that “You know our approach. We don’t think the logic of blocs being military confrontational is the answer to our problem. We feel that we need a much broader approach with much more partnership between countries, we need to provide an alternative to order pushed by certain countries in the region, we need a positive agenda.”

On the QUAD and AUKUS – India has already clarified that AUKUS is a security alliance and Quad is an alliance of like-minded democracies.

The first in-person Quad summit, hosted by US President Joe Biden, was held in Washington last week. The grouping includes Australia, India, Japan, and the US.

French envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain said that “My President, your Prime Minister spoke, ministers, spoke. India is at the core of our Indo-Pacific strategy as we have the same approach. When you’ve challenges like these, you have two solutions. Either you develop your strategic autonomy, give yourself means to be independent or you just rely on other countries to provide you security,”

“Obviously some countries have taken a second approach. India France, it’s nothing new, are taking the first approach since the beginning. We want to get strategic space, strategic autonomy and we feel the best way to do it is to work together as we have been doing for more than fifty years now on defense, critical technology, space, cyber, AI, energy in many areas. I mean that’s the way we want to develop our cooperation and we also want to be trusted partners which we are as you know,” Lenain added.

The envoy termed the signing of AUKUS as a breach of trust between allies.

On the AUKUS – France envoy also said that “My country was surprised. It was a breach of trust between allies and also it’s a major strategic inconsistency. When you want to face an issue, a challenge, usually you try to rally countries that are like-minded, you don’t try to exclude major partners, and my country within the EU is the most involved in the Pacific. We feel we are also a country of the Pacific. Also, we are India’s neighbour. We have territories, we have a second exclusive economic zone worldwide. We have 2 million French people in the area. Compared to India it’s few, for France it’s quite something and we have troops, we have thousands of troops, 7000 troops in the region.”

France recalled its envoys from the US and Australia after AUKUS was signed. Later after discussions between Macron and Biden, it was decided that the envoy to the US will return.

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