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NEW DELHI : The new Australia-UK-US security alliance, also known as AUKUS, will not affect the Quad’s functioning, Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday.

The statement came on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, with both leaders reviewing their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

AUKUS would not impact or dilute the Quad, a grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan that aims to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific against the backdrop of the belligerent rise of China, as the two groupings were not similar in nature, Shringla said at a press conference.

“The Quad is a plurilateral grouping. It is a group of countries that has a shared vision of their attributes and values. They also have a shared vision of the Indo-Pacific region as a free, open, transparent and inclusive region," he said.

The Quad has a proactive agenda, including delivery of vaccines to countries in the Indo-Pacific region to fight the covid-19 pandemic, he said.

“On the other hand, AUKUS is a security alliance among three countries. We are not party to this alliance. From our perspective, this is neither relevant to the Quad nor will it have any impact on its functioning," Shringla said.

Last week, the US, UK and Australia announced the formation of the partnership with the US and UK sharing sensitive technology with Australia, which will allow Canberra to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. The development comes amid China aggressively building up its navy to match US naval power.

Under the pact, Australia will acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, after cancelling a previous agreement with France to buy diesel electric submarines.

The deal between Australia, the UK and the US has angered France, which was not kept in the loop about the impending pact.

The pact had prompted doubts about whether France, which views itself as an Indo-Pacific power given its territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, would remain committed to securing the region.

However, a statement by France on Tuesday said Modi and Macron had “reaffirmed their shared commitment to act jointly in an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, including in the framework of the Europe-India relationship and European initiatives in the Indo-Pacific".

“This approach aims to promote regional stability and the rule of law, while precluding any form of hegemony," it said in what is seen as a reference to China’s aggressive moves in the region.

Macron “reiterated France’s commitment to contributing to strengthening India’s strategic autonomy, including its industrial and technological base, as part of a close relationship based on mutual trust and respect between two strategic partners. Bilateral cooperation in all areas, particularly in the economic sphere, will be boosted," it said, hinting at possible greater collaboration between India and France in areas including defence.

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