(This was originally posted in Al Jazeera)
France’s foreign affairs minister has agreed with his Indian counterpart to work on a programme to promote “a truly multilateral international order”, the French foreign ministry said. Jean-Yves Le Drian and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also agreed during a call to deepen their strategic partnership, “based on a relationship of political trust between two great sovereign nations of the Indo-Pacific”, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The two ministers agreed to meet in New York next week, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, to work “on a common programme of concrete actions to defend together a truly multilateral international order”, it added. For his part, Jaishankar said in a Twitter post they discussed “developments in the Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan”.
France has pushed for several years for a European strategy for boosting economic, political and defence ties in the region stretching from India and China to Japan and New Zealand. The European Union unveiled this week its plan for the Indo-Pacific. The phone call came a day after the French government recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after Canberra ditched a multibillion-dollar order for French submarines in favour of a partnership with Washington and London in the Indo-Pacific region.
Calling the cancellation “unacceptable behaviour”, Le Drian said in a statement on Friday the decision to recall the envoys, on request from President Emmanuel Macron, “is justified by the exceptional seriousness of the announcements” made by Australia and the United States A White House official said on Friday that the US regrets France’s decision and will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve differences between the two countries. Australia said on Saturday it also regrets France’s decision, adding that it values its relationship with France and will keep engaging with Paris on many other issues.