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India, France discuss Indo-Pacific issue and bilateral ties

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with François Delattre, Secretary-General of France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Photo: @DrSJaishankar/Twitter)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met François Delattre, Secretary-General of France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and discussed the situation in the Indo-Pacific. The two also discussed mutual relations with focus on enhanced cooperation in defence and security.

Delattre's visit comes on the heels of the Annual Defence Dialogue held on 17 December 2021 between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the French Minister for Armed Forces Florence Parly.

Jaishankar tweeted about the meeting: "Glad to receive French Secretary General François Delattre. Good discussions on our bilateral cooperation, Indo-Pacific and global developments".

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla too met the Secretary-General to discuss cooperation in spheres such as space, cybersecurity, digital economy, blue economy, education and people-to-people contacts, energy, health and climate change. The two officials were joined by the respective ambassadors.

The two countries also agreed to cooperate in global matters like the UN Security Council as well as Afghanistan.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said: "Reaffirming their shared commitment to a multipolar world and faith in multilateralism, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General also held discussions on a number of regional and global issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in the European Union in view of the forthcoming French Presidency, Indo-Pacific, UNSC, situation in Afghanistan, among others".

India and France have been cementing their relations particularly in the areas of defence and security. India has been fortifying its defences with French weapons to keep a belligerent China in check.

The MEA added that India’s trade with France has seen a steady rise in the last decade, reaching $10.75 billion in 2020. "Despite the pandemic, it is estimated that bilateral trade between the two countries in 2021 has reached $8.85 billion. To tap the full potential of bilateral trade and economic relations, both sides reiterated their commitment to restarting negotiations on the India-EU Free Trade Agreement", said the MEA.

France has emerged as a major source of foreign direct investment with more than 1,000 French establishments in India. France is the 11th largest foreign investor in India with an investment of $9.86 billion from April 2000 to June 2021, representing 1.80% of the total FDI inflows into India.

Indian companies too have set-up base in France with around 200 subsidiaries of Indian businesses in France, employing more than 6,000 people. Most of these firms include IT services, pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies and hospitality sectors.