Visit of Nirmala Sitharaman to France

Indian Defence Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman was on a visit to France for the first India-France Ministerial level annual defence dialogue with her French counterpart, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Ms. Florence Parly.

France, 11-12 October 2018

Raksha Mantri (RM) Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman visited France from October 11-12, 2018 for the first India-France Ministerial level annual defence dialogue with her French counterpart, the Minister for the Armed ForcesMs. Florence Parly. During her visit Smt Sitharaman also interacted with CEOs of French defence industry and visited a defence manufacturing site.

During the defence dialogue held on October 11, 2018 in Paris, the two Ministers comprehensively reviewed the entire gamut of the bilateral defence cooperation, which is a key pillar of the India-France Strategic Partnership. They also exchanged views on contemporary regional & international developments of mutual interest.

Both sides discussed ways to deepen defence related official as well as operational level interactions. It was agreed to expand the scope and complexity of the regular joint exercises (SHAKTI, VARUNA and GARUDA) in the future.

Recognising that India-France partnership in the Indian Ocean Region is important for preserving and promoting the common strategic and security interests, both the Ministers noted the continuing implementation of the "Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region”.

During the visit, RM also addressed a select audience on the topic ‘India-France Defence Engagement in a Multi-polar World’ at the L’Institut de recherche stratégique de l’ÉcoleMilitaire (IRSEM)[French Military College’s Institute for Strategic Research], a well-known think-tank for military and strategic affairs based in Paris.

RM also called on the Prime Minister of the French Republic, Mr. Edouard Philippe and discussed issues of bilateral cooperation.

In her interaction with the top leaders of the French defence industry, RM urged them to undertake and expand their defence manufacturing in India under the Make in India initiative as well as promote defence technology and R&D cooperation with Indian stakeholders such as Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Earth Movers Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited, Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited etc.

Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman addresses on ‘India-France Defence Engagement in A Multipolar World’ at The Institute of Strategic Research (IRSEM) in Paris

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman is on maiden official visit to France on the invitation of French Defence Minister Ms Florence Parly from October 10 - 13, 2018. Smt Sitharaman addressed ‘India-France Defence Engagement in a Multipolar World’ at the Institute of Strategic Research (IRSEM) in Paris, today. In her speech, she said that her visit is a reaffirmation of India’s commitment to the strategic partnership with France, especially in the critical areas of defence cooperation.

Raksha Mantri Smt Sitharaman said, “Under the new framework for defence industry in India, we are hoping to meet our defence requirements within a framework of joint manufacturing and technology driven partnerships”. She highlighted a strong India-France strategic partnership, of which the defence ties are a key component, and an active engagement with other like-minded friends and partners, can contribute to furthering peace and security in these testing times. India presents a major opportunity for the French defence industry. Indian Government’s ‘Make-in-India’ initiative opens doors to not only a huge market but is also an attractive investment destination for defence production and development, including for third country exports. Several of our international partners have already displayed a willingness to expand their presence in the Indian defence manufacturing space.

Raksha Mantri said the current international security environment can be characterized as one of rapid change and uncertainty, with swathes of sustained instability and violence posing a grave challenge. The persisting threat of terrorism, or what we in India as well as increasingly in Afghanistan too, more accurately refer to as cross-border terrorism, is a primary security threat. She also said that the interplay between states and non-state actors that are often used as proxies to foment violence has worsened this menace. Areas of continued violence and instability in the Af-Pak region, as well as parts of West Asia and Africa, have functioned as incubators of virulent manifestations of terrorism. This, combined with the issue of foreign terrorist fighters and uncontrolled migration now pose a clear threat to the stability of wider Asia and Europe.

Smt Sitharaman made special mentioned about the continued presence of terrorist infrastructure and state support to terrorists in the immediate neighbourhood constantly testing India’s patience. As a responsible power, India has exercised great restraint in dealing with this menace. India and France have long been victims of terrorism. Disrupting the recruitment, mobilisation and movements of Foreign Terrorist fighters, stopping sources of terrorist financing in dismantling terrorist infrastructure and preventing supply of arms to terrorists all require a concerted effort. She mentioned that in this direction, France is playing a unique role.

She underlined in that context, growing India-France maritime cooperation, especially in the Indian Ocean region, will be crucial in order to preserving the strategic interests, in maintaining the safety of international sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications in accordance with the international law, for countering maritime terrorism and piracy, for capacity building and for greater coordination in regional/international fora. Such cooperation is for the common benefit of all.

Smt Sitharaman said at a broader level, high political exchanges have been a hallmark of our ties. Most recently, the very successful State visit by President Mr. Emmanuel Macron to India in March this year, and the visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Paris in June last year, have elevated Indo-French relationship to a new trajectory.

India has been constantly supportive of recent efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy. Developments in the Middle East and West Asia are of great significance for India. India has key stakes in this region, which accounts for 66% of our energy requirements and is home to over eight million Indians. Conflict in this region threatens to expand beyond the internal situation in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

India and France are bound by a very deep-rooted thread of military history. She referred to the supreme sacrifice of 9,300 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives on the French soil, fighting in the World Wars. A total of 1,40,000 Indian soldiers fought in various theatres of the First World War in France and Belgium, thousands of miles away from their homeland, for the cause of freedom.

Raksha Mantri stated that India’s partnership with other countries aims to contribute a more secure, stable and peaceful environment for all and spur greater prosperity. She further stated that France is an important stakeholder in this effort and both the countries will remain committed to working together towards these objectives.

Source : Press Information Bureau website.

Last modified on 12/11/2018

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