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Opinion

Macron’s top adviser Emmanuel Bonne to meet with NSA Ajit Doval as France turns the screws on Pak

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The top adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, Emmanuel Bonne, and the national security adviser, Ajit Doval, will hold the annual strategic dialogue between the two countries tomorrow that is expected to review the progress made on the 10,000 megawatt nuclear power plant that will be installed in Maharashtra and the construction of the six diesel-electric submarines within the framework of the P-75I project for the Indian navy. In addition, the two top advisers will also share notes on improving maritime security and developments in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the context of aggressive moves from China.

Bonne, President Macron’s diplomatic adviser, is expected to visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and meet with Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on Friday.

“The two sides will hold discussions on wide-ranging global and bilateral issues,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement ahead of the strategic dialogue that will seek to strengthen deep ties between the two countries. France has been one of India’s most trusted partners in Europe for years, but the two countries had grown a bit closer in recent years, leading to a deal to buy 36 Rafale jets.

When French Defense Minister Florence Parly was in India last year in the context of the induction of omnidirectional fighter jets into the Indian Air Force, she and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh agreed to stick to the Rafale template of agreements. government to government. for future defense purchases.

India is expected to sign a $ 2.5 billion contract this year for 56 medium-haul aircraft under the Make-in-India initiative. India is also considering the acquisition of six Airbus 330 multi-role transport tankers to expand the Indian Air Force (IAF) strike capability through the latest airborne refueling, as well as Safran aircraft engines under the program. ‘ Make in India ‘. The jet engines, which Dassault Aviation uses for its Rafale jets, could be used to power the advanced twin-engine multi-role fighter jet developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) until it develops its own version.

Officials said France had responded positively to New Delhi’s concerns about accessing military technology to countries that have adverse relations with India, a reference to Pakistan. France has decided not to help Pakistan upgrade its fleet of Mirage fighter jets, air defense system and Agosta 90B-class submarines, a decision that was timed after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strong criticism of French President Macron. . Around the same time, France also moved to Qatar, which had previously purchased Rafale jets for its air force, to not allow any Pakistani-born technicians to approach the aircraft for maintenance.

Pakistan observers said it was because of the French government’s restrictive approach that the Mirage 3 and Mirage 5 fighter jets in the Pakistani air force inventory did not participate in last month’s joint air exercises, Eagle-IX, involving to the air forces of China and Pakistan.

Doval and Bonne are also expected to discuss India’s other neighbor, China, in some detail, particularly given France’s concerns about Beijing’s attempt to flex its muscles in the Indo-Pacific region. China, for example, has been trying to get people from the French island group of New Caledonia to vote for independence in the three referenda that are being held to decide their future. This group of islands with an area of ​​18,575 square kilometers, located in the South Pacific east of Australia, is one of the 16 overseas territories of France that are home to 1.5 million French citizens.

In October last year, France had formalized its interest in the Indo-Pacific when President Macron appointed Christophe Penot, one of his country’s top diplomats, as the first French envoy for the Indo-Pacific. As part of this approach, France has forged new initiatives such as the trilateral dialogue launched with India and Australia last September to enhance cooperation and strengthen multilateralism in the region.

Hindustan Times

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