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Indo-French joint naval exercise off Vizag on June 21-22

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French helicopter carrier Dixmude.

VISAKHAPATNAM (PTI): France on Thursday said it is looking forward to conducting more joint naval exercises with India as part of its move to deepen strategic and defence ties with New Delhi.

The French Navy has been looking forward to more joint exercises with India to expand and deepen strategic and defence links between the two countries, said Jean-Marc Sere- Charlet, Minister Counsellor from the Embassy of France in India, here.

Two French naval ships, 'Dixmude' (a landing helicopter dock), and 'Aconit', a stealth frigate, have arrived at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to take part in a two-day joint exercise with the Indian Navy.

Ships from Eastern Naval Command, headquartered here, will take part in the manoeuvre in the Bay of Bengal off Visakhapatnam coast on June 21 and 22.

Commanding Officer of 'Dixmude' Captain Piere de Briancon told the visiting local mediapersons on board the ship on Thursday that they have been sailing since the last three months, leaving their shores on March 4.

He said to promote French industry, they have organised an exhibition on board 'Dixmude'.

A French amphibious task group, "Mission Jeanne d'Arc 2015", comprising 'Dixmude' and 'Aconit' have been deployed on a mission from March to July 2015.

The task group's itinerary has brought it to the Indian Ocean, from where it will set sail to the South China Sea and thereafter to the Sea of Japan, he said.

Elaborating on the Indo-French ties, the Captain said both countries share a longstanding strategic relationship.

The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Paris had paved the way for better economic and defence relationship between the two sides, he said.

The French and Indian navies participated in 'Varuna' series of exercises off the Goa coast last month.

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