(This was originally posted in Zee News by Sidhant Sibal)
New Delhi: Even as India and France strengthen ties, Paris has agreed to join New Delhi’s Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI). IPO was proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East Asia Summit in November 2019.
The development comes even as French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is on an India visit. Earlier in the day, he met India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar. He will also be going to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) headquarters in Bengaluru.
Increasing trade connectivity, maritime transport and maritime security are among the seven key pillars of the initiative. Other five are maritime ecology, maritime resources, capacity building and resource sharing, disaster risk reduction and management, science, technology and academic cooperation.
India has been engaging with countries under IPOI. Many countries in the region have been invited for it. Both India and France are increasing engagement, especially in the defense and maritime domain. French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will take part in India-France Varuna naval exercise.
Charles de Gaulle is the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel. The exercises will start on April 26th and take place off the coast of Oman (Western Indian Ocean). The last edition of Varuna Exercises took place along the Goa coast in May 2019. That was the 17th edition of this exercise. Earlier this month, India for the first time joined France-initiated La Pérouse exercises. The exercises saw the coming together of naval ships of France and all four Quad countries- India, US, Australia, and Japan.