Modi, Macron discuss cooperation after France's fallout with Australia, US
India and France have vowed to "act jointly" in the Indo-Pacific region, a statement from the French presidency said on Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron held a telephonic conversation where the two leaders talked about deepening ties. The development comes as France has had a fallout with Australia and the US over the AUKUS (Australia-United Kingdom-United States) security pact.
According to the statement, Macron assured Modi of continued "commitment to the strengthening of India's strategic autonomy, including its industry and technology base, as part of a close relationship based on trust and mutual respect." The bilateral cooperation—which will also extend to the economic front—"aims to promote regional stability and the rule of law, while ruling out any form of hegemony."
Australia, the UK, and the US recently announced a trilateral security pact—AUKUS—wherein Australia will receive technological support from the other two nations to build nuclear-powered submarines. The deal led to the cancellation of a $40 billion French submarine order from Australia in a setback to France. France described the development as a "stab in the back," recalling its ambassadors in the US and Australia.
On Tuesday, India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the AUKUS fallout has "no link" to the Malabar exercise and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or "Quad": a grouping of Australia, India, Japan, and the US. "From our perspective, (the AUKUS deal) is neither relevant to the Quad nor will it have any impact on its functioning," Shringla said.
Further, Modi and Macron also expressed concern over the crisis in Afghanistan, where the Taliban overthrew the government last month. The two leaders discussed the possibility of terrorism, narcotics, illicit weapons and human trafficking in the country and called for humanitarian efforts to continue. They also agreed to coordinate ahead of multilateral summits such as G20 and COP26.