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French Navy Chief scheduled to begin 3-day India visit today

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Chief of French Navy Admiral Pierre Vandier is set to begin a three-day visit to India on Monday with an aim to explore further boosting bilateral maritime cooperation, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, people familiar with the development said.

As his visit comes in the midst of the crisis in Ukraine, both sides are expected to deliberate on the possible implications of the conflict for the Indo-Pacific region, they said on Sunday.

Admiral Vandier is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with his Indian counterpart Admiral R Hari Kumar as well as Army Chief Gen MM Naravane and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari.

"The visit is aimed at further enhancing bilateral maritime security cooperation," said one of the people cited above.

The visit by the French Navy Chief comes over a month after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar travelled to Paris.

During the visit, Jaishankar said India looks at France as a "trusted" partner in countering myriad security challenges from the seabed to space and from cyber to oceans.

The maritime cooperation between India and France has witnessed a major expansion in the last few years.

The Indian and French navies in April last year carried out a mega wargame in the Arabian Sea in the backdrop of growing concern over China's growing maritime presence in the Indian Ocean region.

The French Navy deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and its entire carrier strike group in the exercise, reflecting growing congruence in naval ties.

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