In Russia-Ukraine war, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron are among the few leaders who have had regular contact with the leaders of both the countries and continue to maintain an open channel of communication with them, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday.
The war has entered into the third week where fighting has reached the streets of all the important cities.
Addressing India-France Track 1.5 Dialogue, Shringla said the global strategic outlook appears complicated. "The post World War II security architecture that had largely preserved peace in Europe over the last several decades is now found to be wanting," he said.
"This scenario calls for mature partnerships to steady the course. It is, therefore, only apt that India and France, which have always sought, and succeeded, in maintaining strategic autonomy, are at the forefront of the call for peace, dialogue and diplomacy."
Talking about India and France bilateral relationship, he said, "India and France have been longstanding friends and strategic partners. As resident powers of the Indo-Pacific, they have a shared understanding of the challenges, opportunities and stakes in the region."
The bilateral relationship has been dominated by cooperation in traditional fields such as defence and security, science and technology, space and cultural contact.
The 21st century problems, however, require 21st century solutions. Both countries understand this very well, which is why they are rapidly expanding their cooperation to non-traditional areas, such as, digital, cybersecurity, green energy and sustainable development.
He said France is currently President of the EU Council and is playing a leadership role in steering Europe through the current crisis while also strengthening Europe's focus on the Indo-Pacific.
"In this context, we appreciate the French initiative of organising the EU Ministerial Forum for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific last month," he said.
This was a unique opportunity for countries of the European Union and the Indo-Pacific to chart out a common vision and strategy for cooperation.
"We also hope to see the resumption of negotiations of the India-EU FTA under French Presidency of the EU Council," he said.
Today's deliberations on the theme of 'Innovation, Sustainability and Multilateral Cooperation' come at an opportune moment when India and France are taking rapid strides in key traditional and non-traditional strategic areas.
The first of these is digital and cybersecurity. In August 2019, India and France adopted a Roadmap on Cybersecurity and Digital Technology, which lays down our common vision for cooperation in a domain which we see as foundational for the 21st century. We have a robust cyber dialogue where we discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation on digital and cyber issues.
On practical aspects too, we have excellent cooperation as can be seen in the successful development of India's fastest supercomputer "Param-Siddhi-AI" under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) by India's Centre for Development of Advanced Computing or C-DAC and the French company Atos.
There is also an increasing realisation that the 5G networks that are coming up in the two countries have to be safe and secure. Both India and France are committed to finding solutions to risks associated with 5G technology.