From France’s support to India for an international convention on terrorism to delivering the first Rafale aircraft, from agreeing on training medical support personnel for Indian astronauts to deciding on a roadmap for cyber security, New Delhi and Paris have come closer on a range of issues, including Afghanistan.
Here are the key takeaways from the joint communique issued after the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, in comparison to the 2018 joint communique.
Terror: France backed the PM’s proposal to hold a global conference on terrorism, while the two leaders asked UN countries to support organising new “No Money for Terror” International Conference on Fighting Terrorist Financing in Melbourne on November 7-8.
The two leaders, in addition to pursuing the excellent cooperation between the nodal agencies and investigation agencies of the two countries, agreed to enhance their operational cooperation and launch fresh efforts to fight radicalisation, especially Online Radicalisation. In 2018 as well, the two sides had agreed to cooperate on online radicalisation.
The two leaders reaffirmed their support for the implementation of the Christchurch Call to Action to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist online content adopted in Paris last May 15.
Like in 2018, the two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including “cross-border terrorism” and terror-related incidents in France and India. Similarly, like in 2018, they called upon all countries to work together to root out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupt terrorist networks and their financing channels, and halting cross-border movement of terrorists belonging to al Qaeda, Daesh/ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, and their affiliates as well as terrorist groups threatening peace and security in South Asia and Sahel region.
Defence: The delivery of the first Rafale combat aircraft from this year was the key takeaway in the joint statement. The first of the 36 aircraft is likely to be delivered in the third week of September.
The PM of India and President of the French Republic noted with satisfaction the progress in implementation of agreements signed, reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen cooperation in defence industry field and extended their support to partnerships between defence companies of the two countries in the spirit of “Make in India” and for mutual benefit of both countries.
Nuclear: There was some movement on the Jaitapur nuclear power project, unlike in 2018.
This year, the two leaders expressed satisfaction with the progress in negotiations between NPCIL and EDF since the conclusion of the Industrial Way Forward Agreement between the two parties in 2018 for construction of six nuclear power reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
Space: Directly in line with the Joint Vision adopted during the State Visit to India of President Macron in March 2018, France and India decided to deepen space cooperation to meet new challenges together, whether it concerns planetary exploration or human spaceflight. They took the decision to train medical support personnel for Indian astronauts, who will be part of India’s manned space mission by 2022.
They signed an Implementing Arrangement for establishment of a framework for realisation of joint maritime domain awareness mission. This is to keep an eye on Chinese assertive moves in the Indian Ocean region.
Cyber: While there was no mention of cyber in the 2018 statement, they adopted a cybersecurity and digital technology roadmap aimed at expanding Indo-French bilateral cooperation, particularly in the strategic sectors of high performance computing and Artificial Intelligence, with the target of bringing start-up ecosystems closer to each other.
Maritime: Based on a shared commitment to maintaining the freedom of navigation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific zone, maritime security cooperation between France and India is a domain of excellence in their strategic partnership. France and India reviewed the swift implementation of the conclusions of the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, adopted during Macron’s visit in March 2018.
For implementation of the White Shipping agreement, India and France agreed on the appointment of a French liaison officer at the Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurgaon.
Economic engagement: The two sides decided to have an appropriate framework to find ways to further promote bilateral trade and investment and speed up resolution of market access issues to the benefit of economic operators. It was decided to jointly strengthen work on solving trade and investment “issues of concern” for French and Indian companies. Leaders jointly agreed that the high-level France-India economic and financial dialogue should be reactivated.
Afghanistan: While there was no mention of Afghanistan in 2018, the two sides decided to cooperate actively for international peace and security, including in the regional crises threatening them. They supported an inclusive peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, leading to a lasting political solution based on preservation of the gains, including the constitutional order, human rights, particularly women’s rights, and liberties gained over the past 18 years. They called for timely holding of Presidential elections; cessation of terrorist violence; and end to terrorist safe havens for enduring and sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
This is strategic congruence of ideas on Afghanistan.