French President Emmanuel Macron's top advisor Emmanuel Bonne and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval will hold an annual strategic dialogue on Friday. According to the statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the two countries will hold discussions on wide-ranging bilateral and global issues. The last edition of the strategic dialogue was held last year in February in Paris.
MEA also informed that both the countries are expected to review the progress made in the 10,000-megawatt nuclear power plant, which is to be set up in Maharashtra and building the six diesel-electric submarines under project P-75I for the Indian navy. As per the statement, both the top advisors will also share notes on improving maritime security and developments in the Indo Pacific region, particularly in the context of China's aggressive move.
MEA officials informed that France has responded positively on India's concerns about the access of military technology to countries to have adversarial relations with India, such as Pakistan. France has decided against helping Pakistan upgrade its fleet of Mirage fighter jets, air defence system and Agosta 90B submarines. This decision comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's loud criticism of French President. Apart from this, France has also conveyed to Qatar, which had earlier bought Rafale jets for its air force, not to allow any Pakistan-origin technologies near the aircraft for maintenance.
NSA Ajit Doval and Emmanuel Bonne are also expected to discuss China, in some detail, [particularly given French concerns around Beijing attempting to flex muscles in the Indo-Pacific region. This comes after China has been trying to get people in the French island group of New Caledonia to vote for independence in the 3 referendums which are being held to decide its future. This island group with an area of 18,575 sq km, located in the South Pacific east of Australia, is one of the 16 overseas territories of France that are home to 1.5 million French citizens.
Earlier in October 2020, France had formalised its interest in the Indo-Pacific when President Macron appointed Christophe Penot, one of his country’s most senior diplomats as the first French envoy for the Indo-Pacific. As part of this focus, France has forged new initiatives such as the trilateral dialogue launched with India and Australia in September last to enhance cooperation and strengthen multilateralism in the region.