Monday, June 18, 2018 | 12:55 PM


France allows India to share naval bases

Sunday, March 11, 2018
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French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said defence ties with India had reached a new high after the two nations signed a key security accord for the Indian Ocean to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

“Defence cooperation between the two countries now has a new significance,” Macron said as a gushing Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood by his side. Under the deal, India and France will open their naval bases to warships from each other, a move seen as an attempt to undermine China´s territorial ambitions.

“A strong part of our security and the world´s stability is at stake in the Indian Ocean,” Macron said.

“The Indian Ocean, like the Pacific Ocean, cannot become a place of hegemony,” he added in an apparent reference to China.

Modi, who welcomed Macron with a bear hug on his arrival Friday, said the accord was crucial as the Indian Ocean region would play a “very significant role” in the days to come.

The comments from the leaders followed a slew of agreements worth Rs17 trillion signed by the two countries in the spheres of defence, space and clean energy.

“From the ground to the sky, there is no subject on which India and France are not working together,” said Modi.

A technical agreement was also signed on the French-assisted nuclear power project at Jaitapur in western Maharashtra state. Sources in the French presidency told AFP they were optimistic of a final agreement being signed before the end of the year. The $9.3-billion framework agreement for six nuclear reactors was signed during a visit to India in 2010 by then president Nicolas Sarkozy.

But the project has since run into stiff opposition from environmentalists concerned about seismic activity in the area and fears about the safety of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Earlier in the day, Macron talked about his personal rapport with Modi which was established after their meeting in Paris last year.