India and France have a mature partnership: French Consul General

Captain of French task group comprising a helicopter carrier and a frigate says Indian and French armies will conduct joint exercise ‘FRINJEX-23’ followed by the ‘La Perouse’ in which the French group will be exercising with Indian, Australian, Japanese, and the US Navies in the Indian Ocean

Updated - March 07, 2023 08:59 am IST

Published - March 06, 2023 09:16 pm IST

French helicopter carrier Dixmude, an amphibious vessel, in Kochi as lead ship of the Jeanne d’Arc global circumnavigation mission. The task group is exercising with the Army and the Navy.

French helicopter carrier Dixmude, an amphibious vessel, in Kochi as lead ship of the Jeanne d’Arc global circumnavigation mission. The task group is exercising with the Army and the Navy. | Photo Credit: S. Anandan

France and India have been friends and allies since India’s independence and it is a mature relationship, according to Lise Talbot Barré, Consul General of France in Pondicherry and Chennai.

Talking to the media in Kochi, where the French task group on a circumnavigation of the globe in what has been named as the Jeanne d’Arc Mission is having a stopover, Ms. Talbot Barre said the Indo-French strategic partnership was celebrating its silver jubilee and “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron are willing to put the partnership at a very high-level ambition”.  

Captain Emmanuel Mocard, commanding officer of the helicopter carrier Dixmude, which along with frigate La Fayette constitutes the task group, said that two exercises would be undertaken by the task group in the Indian Ocean region.

The tactical group comprising 120 soldiers [from the French Army] embarked on Dixmude would undertake a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise, named ‘FRINJEX-23’ with the Pangode-based 91 Infantry Brigade (an amphibious brigade) of the Army over the next three days.

‘La Perouse’

Then, as the task groups depart Kochi, a joint exercise named ‘La Perouse’ would be held with the Indian, the US, Japanese, and Australian Navies primarily to enhance the level of synergies among these maritime forces.

Captain Mocard, who heads the task group, said the exercise would also contain replenishment and gunnery operations. “The main goal is to enhance out cooperation. From our perspective, India is a reliable partner and we have very strong ties and common values. Both respect the international maritime law, freedom of navigation, and the stability of Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific area,” he said.  

To a question whether the joint exercise was intended to send out a signal to someone, he said these navies working together could send a signal. But the objective was to enhance cooperation. 

LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) Dixmude, with amphibious capabilities, also has about 150 officer cadets from the French Naval Academy embarked on it for their ‘at-sea’ training. Among the operations carried out by the task group on the mission was an anti-narcotic operation conducted about three days ago in which it seized huge quantities of heroin, hashish and meth.  

The Jeanne d’Arc Mission got under way a month ago and would last five months, according to the officials.

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