India, France discuss counter-terrorism, cooperation in Indo-Pacific at strategic dialogue

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) India and France discussed key issues such as counter-terrorism, maritime security and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region at their annual strategic dialogue and vowed to accord high priority to their partnership, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval led the Indian delegation, while the French delegation was headed by Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron, at the talks held on Thursday.

At the dialogue, they reiterated their attachment to an inclusive, rules-based Indo-Pacific which contributes to a multipolar Asia in a multipolar world, the French release on the dialogue said.

In its statement, the MEA said the two sides held discussions on a variety of issues including counter-terrorism, cyber security, defence cooperation, maritime security, regional and global issues and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Both sides reaffirmed the high priority they accord to the India-France strategic partnership and highlighted the convergence of views between the two countries, the MEA said.

During his visit here, Bonne also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. He also met Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

'Had a productive meeting with Mr. Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to President Macron. Expressed joy at the progress in India-France Strategic Partnership, a force for global good in the post-COVID world. Reiterated the invitation to my friend @EmmanuelMacron to visit India,' Prime Minister Modi tweeted after meeting Bonne.

The French statement said that the agenda of the strategic dialogue covered all aspects of the Indo-French strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific and in the fields of space, defence, security, civil nuclear energy, among others.

On each topic, the two sides noted the high degree of convergence of views and agreed on concrete steps to further enhance their cooperation, the French statement said.

During his meetings, Bonne conveyed President Macron's wish to further strengthen the relationship of trust and friendship between France and India in 2021.

'Indo-French cooperation will be key to tackling global challenges in 2021, such as ensuring equal and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, protecting climate and biodiversity, and building a renewed multilateralism,' the French statement said.

Bonne highlighted that France will work closely with India in the UN Security Council in 2021-2022 and reiterated France's support for India's bid for a permanent seat, it said. PTI ASK ASK SMN SMN