Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to find “new and innovative ways” to ensure a rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, as they had a meeting on the sideline of the G-20 summit in Rome on Saturday.
Hours after Macron had a meeting with the United States President Joe Biden to mend fences between Paris and Washington DC over the AUKUS, the Prime Minister had the meeting with his counterpart in the French Government.
Modi and Macron reviewed the “wide-ranging India-France Strategic Partnership”, according to a press-release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Prime Minister also welcomed the European Union’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, released in September 2021, and thanked the French President for his leadership role in the same. The two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the Indo-Pacific and to find “new and innovative ways to contribute towards a free, open and rules-based order in the region”, Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the MEA, said.
The US, last month, joined Australia and the UK to launch a trilateral security coalition – AUKUS – for development of joint military capabilities and sharing of defence technologies to counter the military aggression of China in the Indo-Pacific region.
The AUKUS is intended to create a framework for the US and UK to support Australia in acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. The latest move to launch the AUKUS fuelled speculation about the fate of the Quad, a coalition which had already been forged by India, Australia, Japan and the US with the similar objective of countering the geo-political influence of China in the Indo-Pacific, albeit with a benign agenda.
The launch of the AUKUS triggered sharp reaction from Macron’s Government in Paris, as it scuttled a $37 billion deal inked in 2016 for France to provide Australia 12 conventional submarines. New Delhi, however, insisted that the Quad and the AUKUS were not similar groupings.
Modi and Macron discussed the forthcoming United Nations climate summit, COP26, in Glasgow in the UK and the need to focus on issues of climate finance.
The Prime Minister also invited the French President to visit India at the earliest opportunity, according to the MEA spokesperson.
Modi also held a bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Rome on Saturday.