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Indian and French defence ministers discuss developing ties

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Sebastian Lecornu met in New Delhi on Monday to discuss military ties with a focus on defence-industrial co-operation and the Asia-Pacific.

Mr Singh said a wide range of bilateral, regional and defence industrial co-operation issues were discussed during the fourth Annual Defence Dialogue between the two countries.

New Delhi and Paris have shared strategic ties since 1998 and officials say they are multifaceted partners across the spectrum including defence, civil nuclear, economy, space and maritime security, clean energy and environment, counter-terrorism and people-to-people ties.

The leaders discussed strengthening maritime co-operation with a focus on the Asia Pacific region, home to some of the fastest-growing economies and where a western alliance is challenging Chinese influence in the disputed South China Sea.

The two countries have taken a big step in their strategic partnership recently due to their shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

France is present in the region through its overseas territories and says that 93 per cent of its exclusive economic zone is located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

“The ministers recognised their convergence on a number of strategic and defence issues and shared the commitment to work together on enhancing co-operation in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region,” India's Foreign Ministry said.

The leaders also discussed defence-industrial co-operation to help New Delhi with government’s “Make in India” initiative aimed at cutting down imports of military hardware and increasing its manufacturing capacity.

Under France's presidency earlier this year, the EU launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy, that set out a framework of co-operation with states from the western edge of Africa to the eastern shores of the US.

Maritime security and securing trade were key as was investment and production standards.

French President Emmanuel Macron was central to forming the policy given his nation's keen interest in the region.

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