India, France discusses
strategy to counter
threats from Afghanistan

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By Naveen Kapoor

PARIS (France): National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met his French counterpart for annual strategic dialogue between the two countries in Paris ON Saturday. Doval co-chairs the strategic dialogue with Emmanuel Bonne, Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the Republic of France, Emmanuel Macron. The French delegation also included the Chief Military Advisor to President of France, Admiral Jean-Philippe Rolland. Doval also met Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Florence Parly, Minister of Armed Forces. Doval and Emmanuel Bonne discussed various issues of global and regional interest. Both underlined the importance of Indo-Pacific and cooperation in the region.
According to a release issued by the Indian embassy in Paris, “France stressed its continuing commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, as a resident power, and partnership with India as a major pillar of its Indo-Pacific strategy.”

PARIS: NSA Ajit Doval holds discussions with French Defence Minister Florence Parly during their meeting, in Paris on Saturday. (ANI photo)

NSA Doval reiterated that France is one of India’s premier global and Indo-Pacific partners. The two sides reaffirmed the vision articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron most recently during their meeting on the margins of G20 Summit in Rome that their strategic partnership has a vital role to play in advancing peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region, based on democratic values and a common belief in strategic autonomy, rule of law, multipolarity and multilateralism.

PARIS: NSA Ajit Doval with Diplomatic Advisor to French President Emmanuel Bonne during their meet, in Paris on Saturday. (ANI Photo)

India also welcomed EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy and looked forward to French presidency of the EU in the first half of 2022 as an opportunity to give further shape to EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, including in security, connectivity, sustainability and economic development, according to the release issued by the Indian embassy after the dialogue.
Doval and Bonne discussed the global security environment, including current developments and long term challenges in the Indo-Pacific region; the situation in Afghanistan, Africa, Southeast Asia and West Asia; the continuing challenge of terrorism; and, emerging threats in maritime, cyber and space domains. They agreed that the emerging trends in global affairs reinforce the need for closer partnership between India and France, including in the UNSC and other UN forums.

The release further stated, “The two sides will pursue these objectives through enhanced bilateral cooperation, deepening engagement in regional institutions and forums and jointly working with and assisting other countries in the Indo-Pacific region.”
They agreed to strengthen bilateral defence and security partnership through enhanced intelligence and information sharing, operational cooperation, bolstering mutual capabilities, expanding bilateral exercises and pursuing new initiatives in maritime, space and cyber domains.

PARIS: NSA Ajit Doval with French Defence Minister Florence Parly during their meeting, in Paris on Saturday. (ANI photo)

France reiterated its commitment to fully support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and defence industrialisation, joint research and technology development in India across a wide range of advanced capabilities, based on long-standing cooperation and mutual trust.
Building on the successful India-France initiative on International Solar Alliance, the two sides stressed the need to accelerate cooperation in clean energy, including civil nuclear energy and green hydrogen, the release said.

Head of Afghan diplomatic mission raises concern

Meanwhile, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the Kingdom of Belgium, EU and NATO Nazifullah Salarzai has raised his concern over the current political and economic situation in the country and blamed Pakistan for supporting the Taliban.
During a live question and answer session hosted by the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) on Wednesday Salarzai shared his deep insights over the rapidly increasing humanitarian crisis affecting the Afghan people. “Taliban seeks power to force of August 15. It’s a unified call of all international communities against that a government-imposed by force should not be recognised by the world. Instead, the Taliban have forced itself on the country’s population. They have stopped its (country’s) constitutional order, threatening the 20 years of achievement including the human rights situation, trafficking situation, governments, economy and social justice,” the Afghan diplomat said at the event.

He, meanwhile, praised the courage of Afghans – and most in particular, of Afghan women – for challenging the group and standing for the rights of the Afghan people to decide its own future and support an inclusive government.
Nazifullah Salarzai, the head of the Afghan diplomatic mission considered that Pakistan was responsible for the continuous support of the Taliban and that Islamabad should be held responsible for its actions.
In his opinion, there is an imminent danger that terrorism could spread to Central Asia. The region needs to speak with one voice, finding the consensus necessary for a counter-terrorism strategy – one that lacked so dramatically in the last two decades.
The Q&A session was attended by several members of the Afghan diplomatic Embassy and Mission, diplomats from Greece, Croatia, France, the Maldives and India.

Ambassador of Afghanistan to the Kingdom of Belgium, EU and NATO Nazifullah Salarzai

Apart from it, members of the international press and some researchers of Brussels-based think tanks were also present at the event.
According to the session, it was the first presential event taking place at the SADF office in Brussels for over a year.
Nazifullah Salarzai thanked the international community as represented in the G-20 for its answer to the humanitarian crisis and economic collapse that followed the violent takeover of the country by the Taliban. (ANI)