France, after Germany, on Thursday reached out to India following the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with China and asserted that while Beijing is a partner it is also a competitor as well as systemic rival.
This was stated by French President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic advisor Emmanuel Bonne while speaking to a select group of audience at the leading think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) following his Strategic Dialogue with NSA Ajit Doval. Bonne will meet the Foreign Minister as well as Foreign Secretary on Friday.
The senior French diplomat assured that safeguards have been put in place in CAI unlike RCEP to prevent China from manipulating Europe. On Wednesday the German Chancellor had reached out to the Indian PM on CAI. Big part of Bonne’s dialogue with Doval was on defense and security including defence procurement and under Make in India program; sharing information especially in the Indian Ocean Region; China’s aggression and growing international terrorist network including that from Pakistan.
“Our relation with Pakistan “historic low,” Bonne told the audience in VIF. Calling for both offensive and defensive strategy against China, Bonne asserted “When China breaks the rules, we need to be robust.” He further emphasised, “Whether on Kashmir we have been very supportive of India in the Security Council, we have not let the Chinese play any kind of procedural games.. What we say publicly, we say to the Chinese also privately.” “We need India…we want to develop ties with India in a long-term approach,” suggested Bonne as he pitched for a global partnership with India including maritime surveillance through expansion of partnership between the satellite networks.
Bonne also hinted at India-France-Australia trilateral Foreign Minister meet here on the sidelines of Raisina Dialogue (India’s premier foreign policy dialogue) in April to boost Indo-Pacific partnership. France has a strong presence in the Indian Ocean region. Its overseas territories of Reunion Island and Mayotte island makes it a stakeholder in the region. The overseas territories of France give it an area of 28 lakh sq km in the Indian Ocean as Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). France has permanent bases in Djibouti and Abu Dhabi.
France also has territories in the Pacific Ocean region making it a natural stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region. It is keen to expand its partnership with Japan and Singapore. The French companies have been among the top investors in India in the fields of renewable energy, defence, infrastructure and smart cities, and pharmaceuticals. At present, India-France trade stands at around $13 billion (2019)
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