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“France’s commitment to the security of India” is very clear. Our strategic partnership exemplifies this | India News

As India’s ties with France have deepened to become one of the most important bilateral relationships, both countries overcame the limitations of the Covid pandemic to maintain the strategic dialogue between the NSA Ajit Doval and Emmanuel Bonne, diplomatic adviser to the President Macron. Bonne sat down to chat with TOI and said: “We work together as sovereign partners, with a strong will to address international challenges in a post-Covid world, which will require like-minded countries to join forces.”
What were your discussions with the NSA and the Indian leadership?
My discussions are part of the Indo-French strategic dialogue, where we speak with complete confidence on a wide range of security and defense issues. We have strong, reliable and constant cooperation on strategic matters with India. We are committed partners, we have very strong platforms to work on and we have ambitions. We have a clear vision, in terms of regional and Indo-Pacific security. We are tackling global issues of terrorism and new threats like cybernetics. We approach this with one conviction: that we work together as sovereign partners, with a strong will to address international challenges in a post-Covid world, which will require like-minded countries to join forces, based on clear rules and a common understanding what to do.
How would you describe our current cooperation in the Indo-Pacific?
The basis of our cooperation is the speeches of President Macron in Australia and Prime Minister Modi at the Shangri La Dialogue. They provide a comprehensive framework for cooperation between France and India in the Indo-Pacific. It is based on realities, shared security needs and shared values. India is an important player in this region, but France is also an Indo-Pacific country, through French territories, military presence and maritime economic zone in the region. This gives us the possibility of a very operational cooperation with India. Mainly in the area of ​​maritime security, but also through increasingly ambitious cooperation on issues such as the preservation of the environment, the blue economy and investments that are consistent with international standards and sustainable development.
How is the India-France-Australia trilateral working?
The basis of our cooperation is bilateral. But this can be expanded with partners like Australia. This trilateral dialogue started in September 2020 and has already proven to be very fruitful. We believe that like-minded countries with shared democratic values ​​can shape the global agenda.
As India enters the UN Security Council, do France and India have areas of common interest?
France is actively campaigning for India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We believe that India has the legitimacy to occupy a permanent position and would make a decisive contribution to international peace and security. In 2021-2022, we want to work together in the United Nations Security Council on an ambitious agenda, including priorities for France as well as the Middle East and Africa, and helping to close the gaps in the international community on the most urgent issues. Like the Iran nuclear problem. We need India to work with us to find the right method and the right way to ensure that Iran is fully compliant with the JCPOA again and engages with other partners for Middle East peace and security and global stability.
Terrorism is a priority for both France and India and you have worked closely at the FATF. Which are the next steps?
Terrorism is a long-term threat. When our country fell victim to terrorist attacks last October, India’s clear and public support was invaluable. Now, we must continue to develop our operational cooperation and mobilize the international community to be more coherent and efficient against all terrorist threats. The financing of terrorism is a key issue in this regard, and we are pleased that India is hosting this year the third edition of the “No Money for Terrorism” initiative, which France launched in 2018. Combating hate speech and incitement to terrorism on the Internet is another area in which we can cooperate. Finally, at the UNSC, India will chair important committees related to the fight against terrorism: we will work together on issues such as the adoption of sanctions against terrorist groups and individuals and their implementation.
India’s biggest security challenge is China. How do you see that?
Our commitment to the security of India is very clear. Our strategic partnership exemplifies this commitment. Regarding the regional environment of India, we are confident that the Indian authorities will find the appropriate solution with the neighbors through peaceful dialogue and negotiation, in order to solve long-standing problems. France, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has a special role to play in international peace and security. We are committed to international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
India sees China as an aggressor, not only against India but in the region. Do you agree?
When it comes to China, France and its European partners have a very clear strategy, which was established by the European Union in 2019 that defines China in three words: a partner, a competitor, and a systemic rival. What we are doing with China is working under conditions that take into account the importance of the role that China has to play in international life, but within a very clear framework of international rules. We want to be able to operate with the Chinese authorities on the basis of international law, international standards, respect for the safety of all our partners. It is a demanding and attractive approach, which aims to advance our interests and obtain positive commitments from China; this is true of everything we are doing.
What is the next step in the Rafale acquisitions? Is it co-development?
Defense cooperation is part of our strategic partnership. We are a reliable long term defense partner of India. We are proud that all Rafale aircraft have been delivered on time despite the pandemic. Regarding new opportunities: We are prepared to meet the needs and requests of India, to help India improve its strategic autonomy.
Where are we in the Jaitapur nuclear power project? Do you think we can conclude the negotiations soon?
We are confident that we can find a way forward to conclude the negotiations. In a context in which our countries are immersed in a green transition, we need an energy mix that includes renewable energy. – We have many Indo-French initiatives in this sector, such as the International Solar Alliance. – but nuclear power is also a key component of the energy mix.

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