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Indian Navy chief holds talks with French counterpart

Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar welcomes French Navy chief Admiral Pierre Vandier during his ceremonial reception, at the South Block in New Delhi, Monday, March 28, 2022. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Chief of Naval Staff R Hari Kumar on Monday held extensive talks with his visiting French counterpart Admiral Pierre Vandier, focusing on mechanisms to ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean amid rising Chinese presence in the region.

It is learnt that the two navy chiefs also deliberated on the possible implications of the Ukraine crisis for the Indo-Pacific region.

The French Navy chief also hold separate talks with Army chief Gen MM Naravane and discussed ways to further strengthen the military cooperation between the two countries, officials said.

Admiral Vandier is on a visit to India to participate in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Maritime Exercise (IMEX).

The officials said issues relating to bilateral cooperation, including avenues for capacity building, strengthening interoperability and collaborative mechanisms towards ensuring peace and stability in the Indian Ocean, figured in the talks between Admiral Kumar and Admiral Vandier.

The French Navy chief was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour at the South Block lawns in the Raisina Hills area of Delhi.

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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