India-France interests in Indo-Pacific region vast & deep: PM Modi

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a trip to France on Thursday, he said interests between the two nations in the Indo-Pacific region were vast and deep.

He made the remarks to French newspaper Les Echos ahead of his trip, which will also take him to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Our (India AND France) interests in the Indo-Pacific region are vast, and our engagement is deep. I have described our vision for this region in one word, ‘SAGAR’, which stands for Security and Growth for All in the Region, ” Modi told the newspaper.

“While peace is necessary for the future we seek to build, it is far from assured. India has always stood for peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue and diplomacy, and for respecting sovereignty of all nations, international law and the rules-based international order.”

On 25 years of strategic partnership between India and France, Modi told Les Echos that “I feel we are now at a turning point. If we look at the post-pandemic global order and the shape that it is taking, I think the positive experience of our strategic partnership is an important step ahead”.

“So, we look forward to working on a roadmap for the next 25 years of the strategic partnership, which I think is very important for the relationship. The relationship is in excellent shape. It is strong, trusted and consistent. It has been steady and resilient in the darkest storms. It has been bold and ambitious in looking for opportunities.”

Highlighting the significance of India in promoting issues of the Global South, the Prime Minister said: “I see India being that strong shoulder that if Global South has to make that high jump, India can be that shoulder to propel it ahead. For the Global South, India can also build its linkages with Global North.

“So, in that sense, this shoulder can become this bridge of sorts. So, I feel that what we need is to strengthen this shoulder, this bridge so that linkages between the North and South can become stronger and the Global South can itself become stronger.”

On being asked as to why the Indo-US relationship has seen a phenomenal rise in the last few years, Modi said: “It is true that the relationship has been growing positively since the turn of the century. It has accelerated and reached new levels in the past nine years.

“There is widespread support for deepening our ties, from all stakeholders, in both countries — be it government, parliament, industry, academia and of course the people. The US Congress has consistently extended bipartisan support for elevating our relationship.”

He further said that he personally enjoyed an excellent rapport with the US leadership, across different administrations, over the last nine years.

“During my state visit to the US in June, President Joe Biden and I agreed that the partnership between the world’s two largest democracies with exceptionally strong people- to-people ties could be the defining partnership of this century.

“This is because this partnership is perfectly placed in terms of interests, vision, commitments and complementarities to address the challenges of our times and contribute in a significant way to shaping the global order, ” he noted.

Modi’s two-day visit to Paris comes at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Prime Minister will be the guest of honour at the Bastille Day Parade on Friday, where a tri-services Indian armed forces contingent will be participating.

According to the External Affairs Ministry, Modi will also hold formal talks with Macron and meet his French counterpart, as well as the presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly.

He will also separately interact with the Indian diaspora in France, CEOs of Indian and French companies, and prominent personalities.