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NEW DELHI : Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday co-chaired the fourth India-France Annual Defence Dialogue with French Minister of Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu in New Delhi. 

Lecornu is on a two-day visit to India. According to the defence ministry, a wide range of bilateral, regional, and defence industrial cooperation issues were discussed in the dialogue.

“The Ministers reviewed the ongoing military-to-military cooperation which has increased substantially in the recent years. They discussed means to strengthen maritime cooperation and increase the scope and complexity of bilateral exercises. They noted with satisfaction that India and France recently held their bilateral Air Exercise ‘Garuda’ at Air Force Station, Jodhpur successfully," the ministry said.

During the dialogue, one of the key areas of discussion was defence industrial cooperation with a focus on ‘Make in India’. Future collaborations and potential co-production opportunities were discussed. The Ministers agreed that the technical groups from both the countries should meet early next year and take the key cooperation issues forward.

The Ministers recognised their convergences on number of strategic & defence issues and shared the commitment to work together on enhancing cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral fora, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region. France is the current chair of Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and Indian Scan Naval Symposium (IONS) and both countries cooperate closely in these fora.

As part of his visit to India, Sebastien Lecornu on 27 November made a day-long trip to Headquarters, Southern Naval Command and visited India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. The French Minister of Armed Forces stated that he was highly impressed with INS Vikrant. 

France is one of India’s most trusted strategic partners and both countries look forward to celebrating 25 years of their strategic partnership in 2023.

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