India-France naval cooperation to rise: French Navy chief

New Delhi: French Navy Chief Vice Admiral Christophe Prazuck inspects Guard of Honour during a ceremonial reception organised for him at South Block, in New Delhi on Jan 7, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) India and France are looking to improve bilateral maritime defence co-operation after studying the entire spectrum of naval capabilities between the two nations, French Navy chief, Admiral Christophe Prazuck, said here on Monday.

Prazuck said, in response to a query by IANS, that he held discussions with his Indian counterpart Admiral Karambir Singh on issues pertaining to terrorism but refused to divulge details of the discussion.

“There are lessons to be learnt from our last interaction. In my meeting with Admiral Singh, we discussed on how we can further improve our co-operation. We discussed that if there are any shortfalls in our co-operation, we need to go further, be it submarine or aircraft carrier operations. We also discussed about terrorism though I cannot enter into the details here,” he said.

Delivering a talk titled ‘French strategic vision on the Indo-Pacific’, he said France is looking forward to joint patrolling with the Indian Navy in the area in 2020.

Prazuck said France, being the country with the second largest exclusive economic zone, cannot turn its eye away from the South China Sea when the law of the sea is at risk. Admitting that China has been trying to expand its military footprint in the region, he said France is a committed player in the international rules-based order in the South China Sea.

“Chinese Navy is not hiding anything about its global ambitions,” Prazuck said.

The Navy chief said the Indo-Pacific is clearly a French government priority though mainland France is very away from the region.

“The Indo-Pacific is a hub of global maritime trade. We are a committed player in the international rules based order. We are a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. We have jurisdiction over the second largest exclusive economic zone in the world. When we are witnessing a resurgence of power politics in the area, we choose democracy, multilateralism and an international rules-based order. We are concerned every time international rules are broken or even threatened.

“We are also concerned about the activities of non-state actors in the region. The region is also important to us because we need to respond to natural and man-made disasters across the globe. Industrial scale illegal fishing in the region is also leading to indirect implications on food security,” he said.

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