India & France to Start Joint Patrolling Mission of Indian Ocean Region

December 09: After holding their biggest-ever Varuna naval exercise off Goa and Djibouti in May, India and France will soon launch a joint naval patrolling mission in the Indian Ocean Region to protect their strategic interests, said a top French military officer on Monday.

The navies from the two countries will also early next year ink a pact to share classified information for better operational cooperation in the region, said vice admiral Didier Malterre, commander of the French joint forces in IOR. “We are preparing to carry out joint patrol in southern Indian Ocean. India is planning to deploy its P-8I (long-range maritime patrol) aircraft,” he said. He also expressed concern over China expanding its maritime influence in the IOR.

Malterre said China had taken to deploying more and more assets in the IOR including destroyers, nuclear submarines and conventional submarines to ostensibly check piracy. “But submarines are not the best tool to fight piracy. So, there is another ambition behind it and we know that,” he said, indicating China had a bigger strategic aim behind its Belt and Road Initiative and the Hambantota port could well be used for “dual” purposes.

On the proposed India-French pact to facilitate sharing of classified information, he said it would be a rare occasion for his country to have such an arrangement with a non-Nato country. With the two countries sharing the same political objectives in the IOR, the Indian and French navies have expanded the level and scope of their joint exercises to feature aircraft carriers, submarines and amphibious warships on a regular basis.

Source: Times of India

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