Focus on Indo-Pacific region: Foreign ministers of India, Australia, France to meet on April 13
New Delhi, Apr 02: The foreign ministers of India, Australia and France will meet on April 13 and discuss steps to strengthen maritime security and the challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region.
On April 12 French foreign minister, Jean Yves Le Drian will begin his two-day visit to India. The following day he would meet with India's external minister, S Jaishankar and Australian foreign minister Marise Payne. Drian will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi the same day.
Meanwhile, the French Navy''s amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre and frigate Surcouf arrived in Kochi on Tuesday ahead of a mega naval war game involving France and four member nations of the Quad grouping, officials said.
The French ships are on a two-day goodwill visit to Kochi, in reflection of deeper military ties between the two navies, they said.
The ships will be sailing to the Bay of Bengal on Thursday to participate in the France-led ''La Perouse'' naval war game from April 5-7.
The exercise will see participation of navies of the US, Japan, Australia and India, all member nations of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition.
In Kochi, the French delegation and the commanding officers of the French naval ships called on Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, Vice Admiral A K Chawla.
"The regular conduct of bilateral exercises, goodwill visits by ships and high level delegation visits involving both the navies are indicative of growth in mutual cooperation and jointmanship," said an Indian Navy official.
India has been expanding cooperation with navies of the US, Japan, Australia and France in the last few years.
On March 28 and 29, India and the US navies carried out a two-day naval exercise in the eastern Indian Ocean Region.
The Indian Navy deployed its warship Shivalik and long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I in the ''PASSEX'' exercise while the US Navy was represented by USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.
A carrier battle group or carrier strike group is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships.
The exercise came over a week after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin flew to India as part of his three-nation first overseas tour that signalled the Biden administration''s strong commitment to its relations with its close allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
During the visit, both sides resolved to further consolidate their robust defence cooperation through deeper military-to-military engagement with Austin describing the partnership as a "stronghold" of a free and open Indo-Pacific.