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Change in stance

Change in stance
Highlights

Two latest twists to foreign affairs of the country hint at far reaching developments. It looks as though India is rewriting the rules of engagement in tune with its national interests. If the first is the agreements signed with France, the second one is its perceptible softening of stand towards China’s concerns.

Two latest twists to foreign affairs of the country hint at far reaching developments. It looks as though India is rewriting the rules of engagement in tune with its national interests. If the first is the agreements signed with France, the second one is its perceptible softening of stand towards China’s concerns.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a few agreements the other day in New Delhi. Most important of them all is the maritime agreement, perhaps. It should be noted that France is the biggest maritime power in the Indian Ocean with bases in Reunion and Mayotte, it also has a presence in southern Pacific, with bases in French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

The agreement between India and France effectively gives the Indian Navy an access to all France naval facilities in the two regions - Indian Ocean and the Southern Pacific Ocean. Similarly, France too gets the opportunity. This crucial reciprocal logistics support between the two Armed Forces was one of the key agreements among the 14 that were signed during the three-day visit of the French President.

This also means that France and India will act in tandem in the Indian Ocean and also the Pacific Ocean. France has always been at the forefront in demanding freedom of navigation all over, including South China Sea and it has already offered to coordinate such efforts with the navies of the European Union in 2015.

It should be recalled here that French Navy has also carried out joint drill with Australian and Vietnamese defence forces in 2015 and also in regular coordination with the Japanese Navy. How does China react to this latest agreement - which is a trilateral one in addition with Australia being the other player included - between France and India now? Should it worry in the first place at all?

The Indo-French agreements give rise to these questions because of the softening of the Indian stand towards Chinese concerns of late. One of the primary concerns of China has always been Dalai Lama, whom it perceives as an anti-national and saboteur. Of course, there are border disputes too with India for it.

The other day when India discretely asked its top order not to attend the 'Thanksgiving Day’ of Tibetans planned in New Delhi, it came as a surprise to everyone because this is not how India treats the Tibetans. Again, India was the first to congratulate China when the latter became the vice-president of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force).

What exactly transpired in Paris is not known. But, it is significant to note that, China which had opposed the move to get Pakistan included in the FATF’s Grey-list for financing international terrorism across the globe along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia initially, withdrew its resistance at the last moment and agreed to join hands with the rest of the world. Is it something reciprocal that India forced Tibetans to move their celebrations from New Delhi to Dharamshala? In both these cases, India seems to have embarked on a long term game-plan.

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