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French Navy chief arrives on six-day visit

Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R K Dhowan with Chief of Naval Staff, French Navy, Admiral Bernard Rogel, at a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. A PTI photo.

NEW DELHIS (PTI): The French Navy chief Admiral Bernard Rogel on Thursday arrived here on a six-day visit during which he will tour naval facilities in Goa and Mumbai, besides seeing the Mazagon Dock which is building six Scorpene submarines with help of a French firm.

The Admiral was received at the South Block lawns in the afternoon by Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan and accorded a ceremonial guard of honour.

Outlining the importance of his visit, Rogel said, "India has been a strategic partner to France for years."

Asked if he would be visiting the Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL), he said, "Of course. I am a submariner. We have several submarines and therefore it is important to have this sort of discussion."

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters, Dhowan played down the issue of docking of Chinese submarines at Sri Lankan ports.

"They (Chinese submarines) are in Sri Lanka waters. They are visiting Sri Lankan ports. That is an issue between the Sri Lankan Navy and Chinese," he said, adding that the Chinese have never approached India for any replenishments for its submarines.

"It is the responsibility of the Indian Navy to safeguard the maritime interests of the country and we monitor all the activities in the maritime domain in our area of interest," he said.

During the day, the visiting French dignitary met senior naval officers as well as various senior MoD and other government officials in Delhi.

The Admiral is scheduled to visit Goa where he will address the naval participants at the Naval War College, Goa.

He will then go to Mumbai and is scheduled to visit naval facilities as well as Mazagon Dock (MDL).

Six state-of-the-art submarines fitted with latest equipment are being built at MDL, Mumbai, in collaboration with DCNS France.

The first submarine is expected to be launched in September 2015.

Indian and French naval cooperation covers a wide spectrum of maritime activities and includes Navy to Navy staff talks, bilateral exercise Varuna as well as regular delegation level interactions, an official statement said.

Warships of both navies make regular port calls to each other's ports. The training interaction includes courses in high technology as well.

French Navy has been an active supporter of the Indian Navy initiated 'IONS' which is aimed at collaboration among IOR littorals towards enhancement of maritime security and good order at sea.


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