France welcomes 17th edition of Varuna bilateral exercise with India
France on Friday welcomed the two-part Varuna bilateral exercise with India, calling it a “swift development” of bilateral relations in the maritime security.
“Varuna is a decades-long exercise illustrative of our historic and strategic partnership…France is an all-weather, unconditional and predictable partner, and with India, our naval cooperation has been exemplary…It is an integral and key part of our bilateral strategic partnership since 1998,” an official statement outlined.
The first phase of the exercise, namely Varuna 19.1, began off Goa’s coast on May 1 and is scheduled to culminate on May 10. Varuna 19.2, on the other hand, is slated to be held in May-end near Djibouti.
A statement issued by the Embassy of France in New Delhi outlined that the exercise — which was initiated in 1983 — implements two key documents which were adopted during French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to India last year: the Joint Strategic Vision of India- France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region and the Reciprocal Logistics Support Agreement between the armed forces of the two countries.
At least six French navy ships are participating in the exercise, including the French Navy’s aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers, FNS Forbin and FNS Provence, the frigate FNS Latouche–Treville, the tanker FNS Marne and a nuclear submarine. Around 3,000 French sailors are on board for this two-part maritime exercise.
From the Indian side, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, destroyer INS Mumbai, the Teg-class frigate, INS Tarkash, the Shishumar – class submarine, INS Shankul, and the Deepak-class fleet tanker, INS Deepak, will be participating in the joint exercise, it added.
The harbour phase at Goa includes cross-visits, professional interactions and discussions, and sports events. The sea phase comprises various exercises across the spectrum of maritime operations. It will be a multi-domain exercise; sea, air and undersea involvement of the newly modernized Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and its battle group, the statement highlighted.
The carrier has been equipped with the modern naval and military equipment, including for submarine and cyber warfare while the battle aircraft are now Rafale-only. 20 of the jets are on board. It speaks volumes about the strategic importance France attaches to the Indian Ocean region and its partnership with India, the statement further said. (ANI)
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