NEW DELHI: Aimed at increasing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, India, Australia and France on Wednesday held the first trilateral meeting of senior officials. It was co-chaired by the foreign secretaries of the three countries.
“The three sides discussed economic and geostrategic challenges and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 and domestic responses to the pandemic,” a statement from the External Affairs Ministry said.
The meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of tensions with India along the LAC in Ladakh and also Beijing’s aggressions in the South China Sea. The Indo-Pacific platform is often perceived to be an attempt to keep China’s growing influence in the region in check.
Apart from the Indo-Pacific, India is also a part of the Quad with US, Japan and Australia. It has recently signed an agreement with Canberra which allowed the two countries use its military bases for logistics. India has similar agreements with France and the US, and is expected to sign a similar deal with Japan.
“The focus of the dialogue was on enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
Cooperation on the marine global commons and potential areas for practical cooperation at the trilateral and regional levels were also discussed. This included cooperation through regional organisations such as Asean, Indian Ocean Rim Association and Indian Ocean Commission,” the statement added. It also focused on ways to strengthen and reform multilateralism and priorities and challenges with regard to regional and global forums.
“The meeting was held with the objective of building on the strong bilateral relations that the three countries share with each other and synergising their respective strengths to ensure a peaceful, secure, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific Region,” it said.