France on Monday said the “rigorous dialogue” with Russia for respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity figured in talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris.
S Jaishankar arrived in Paris on Sunday on a day French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a marathon telephonic conversation to defuse the crisis in Ukraine amid apprehension of a Russian invasion of the eastern European nation.
A day after the talks between Mr Jaishankar and Le Drian, the French foreign ministry on Monday said they exchanged views on international and regional issues, including the situation in Ukraine.
“The ministers exchanged views on international and regional issues, including the rigorous dialogue with Russia for the respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the discussions with Iran for implementing the joint comprehensive plan of action,” the French foreign ministry said.
A press statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the two ministers exchanged perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, Iran nuclear deal and the evolving situation in Ukraine.
“They reiterated their shared commitment to the principles of multilateralism and a rules-based order, and agreed to coordinate in the UN Security Council on issues of mutual concern,” it said.
Though the US and its Western allies have been severely critical of the massive Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border, India has not spoken against Russia as it has been pitching for “quiet and constructive diplomacy” to resolve the crisis.
On the overall talks between Jaishankar and Le Drian, the French foreign ministry said the ministers agreed to deepen the Indo-French strategic partnership and cooperation in areas of defence, civil nuclear energy, space, and security.
The two sides also adopted a “bilateral roadmap on the blue economy and ocean governance” through which France and India commit to joint actions to make the Indo-Pacific an area of sustainable growth, rule of law and oceans protection, according to the French readout.
“They recalled the importance of intensifying people-to-people ties between France and India. In this regard, Le Drian recalled the goal of welcoming 20,000 Indian students in France by 2025, and proposed the establishment of an ‘Indo-Pacific’ campus in India focusing on training, research, and innovation in healthcare,” it said.
The French foreign ministry also said that the two ministers reaffirmed their shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific governed by the rule of law.
The situation in the Indo-Pacific and possible areas of cooperation are likely to be delved into at a ministerial forum for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, being organised by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union on Tuesday in Paris.
The French readout also said that in view of the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, a declaration of intent in the field of sport was finalised.
“Minister Le Drian welcomed the many upcoming cultural events, including the cross-participation of France and India as guests of honour in the New Delhi World Book Fair and the Paris Book Fair respectively, and the launch of the 4th edition of the Bonjour India festival,” it said.
“With over 130 cultural events taking place in India from March to May, Bonjour India 2022 will celebrate the friendship between France and India, thus marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” it added.
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