In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship.
The areas of defence cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the three principal pillars of our Strategic Partnership.
Apart from these traditional fields of cooperation, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation like climate change, sustainable growth and development, the International Solar Alliance etc.
France is the only western country with large territory in the IOR including the Reunion Islands, that spans about two million sq. km. of an EEZ, and it has a population of one million French Citizens in the region, including about 30% of Indian origin. The French navy maintains bases in the UAE, Djibouti as well as in Reunion, with a total of 20k forces permanently based in the IOR.
India and France support a multi-polar world order. France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations.
France has provided consistent support to India’s candidature for the membership of Multilateral Export Control regimes, viz. NSG and MTCR. France’s support was vital in India’s accession to MTCR in June 2016.
India and France have consistently condemned terrorism and have resolved to work together for adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN.
During the visit of then President Hollande in January 2016, India and France also issued a Joint Statement on Counter Terrorism in which the two countries resolved to step up their bilateral cooperation in this field.
Dialogue Mechanism b/w India and France
India and France have a range of regular institutional dialogues:
India-France Strategic Dialogue takes place between NSAs from both sides.
Annual Foreign Office Consultations The bilateral dialogue on Maritime Cooperation
Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism
Track 1.5 Dialogue (led by Joint Secretary (PP&R), MEA) with the participation of the Observer Research Foundation from our side and the Strategy and Policy Planning Division of the French MFA called CAPS and the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI as the French acronym stands) are the other active mechanisms.
Security and Defence Relations
Regular exchange of visits at the level of Services Chiefs takes place.
The three services also have regular defence exercises; viz. Exercise Shakti (Army); Exercise Varuna (Navy); Exercise Garuda (Air Force.
The Varuna exercise has been taking place since 1983.
Apart from service-level staff talks, the two sides have a High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCDC) which meets annually at the level of Defence Secretary and the French Director General of the Directorate of International Relations and Strategy (DGRIS).
Apart from this, various staff courses, training programmes etc. also regularly take place.
Technology – Space
India and France have a rich history of cooperation in the field of space going back to fifty years with ISRO and the French Space Agency, CNES carrying on various joint research programmes and launch of satellites. A joint stamp was released to commemorate fifty years of bilateral space cooperation during the visit of PM Modi to France in April 2015.
M/s Antrix and M/s Airbus Defence and Space also have signed an MoA for commercial cooperation in June 2016.
GSAT-18 was launched from Arianespace, Kourou on 5 October 2016 which was the twentieth ISRO satellite launched by Arianespace. GSAT-17 was launched from Kourou on 28 June 2017.
During the visit of President Hollande to India in January 2016, ISRO and CNES signed an Implementing Arrangement (IA) for the joint development of a thermal infrared satellite mission; payload of French Argos-IV instrument on India’s Oceansat-3 satellite and a Letter of Intent for cooperation in planetary exploration.
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