France became the latest of the three countries with which India has a space security dialogue, after the United States and Japan. While India and France have had civil space cooperation for several decades, they also share concerns about the changing space security dynamics. France has continued to remain one of India’s trusted strategic partners, with cooperation extending across many issues.
In December 2021, French Defense Minister Florence Parly paid a visit to New Delhi for the third annual defence dialogue between India and France. The meeting was held at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, India. Minister Parly and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh discussed a range of bilateral, regional, and defence issues, including bilateral defence industry collaboration and co-production of defence platforms. The two ministers also reviewed the continuing military-to-military cooperation, which has seen a spike despite the pandemic challenges. The talks covered aspects of wide-ranging Indo-French defence cooperation, including operational defence cooperation, particularly maritime security in Indo-Pacific, an industrial and technological partnership in line with Make in India and counter-terrorism cooperation.
According to the reports by the French Embassy, this visit highlights France’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific and the centrality of India in the French strategy. The Embassy in a statement stated that “It comes in the wake of several major bilateral air, navy, and army exercises this year: Desert Knight 21 in January, Varuna in April, Shakti in November. Minister Parly will stress France and India’s joint commitment to answering the challenges of the Indo-Pacific by bringing together friendly powers to defend the rule of law, offering a positive agenda to the countries of the region, and rejecting all forms of hegemony.”
During her visit, Parly also met Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, in particular for discussions on regional security issues. She also paid tribute to India’s soldiers at the National War Memorial in Delhi and offered her respects to CDS General Bipin Rawat on his tragic demise.