PM Modi & MEA Jaishankar during the recently concluded QUAD meeting

G7 foreign ministers meeting is the first in-person meeting of foreign minister of the grouping amid pandemic

In a significant development, the much-awaited physical trilateral between Indian, Australian, and French foreign minister took place in London on Tuesday. This is the first-ever trilateral meet of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Australian FM Marise Payne who met on the sidelines of the G7 foreign minister meet in London.

G7 foreign ministers meeting is the first in-person meeting of foreign minister of the grouping amid pandemic. The meet is happening after a period of more than two-and-a-half years, and the last such meet of G7 FMs was in France in 2019. Members of the G7 are--Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. For the G7 FMs meet this year, the UK as the host had invited India, Australia, South Korea, South Africa and the secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The France, India, Australia trilateral was launched in September 2020 at Foreign Secretaries' levels with three joint priorities-- maritime security, environment, and multilateralism. There have been Senior Official's meetings on each track since then and now it is being raised to ministerial level. The trilateral mechanism is elevated at the ministerial level within one year of its inception.

The focus of the 3 countries is, expectedly also on Indo Pacific as well. Both France and Australia are part of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative(IPOI) announced by India in 2019. In fact, France joining the IPOI was announced during the French foreign minister's visit to New Delhi last month. Naval forces of all the 3 countries have been also exercising with each other under several formats, from India-France bilateral naval exercises Varuna, to Malabar Naval exercises with the involvement of Quad countries--India, Japan, Australia, and the US or the La PĂ©rouse--Franch Naval forces with Quad member countries.

Earlier this year the mechanism had met at the senior officials level. The Indian side was led by Joint Secretary (Europe West) in MEA, Sandeep Chakravorty while the French side was led by Bertrand Lortholary, Director (Asia and Oceania), and the Australian side was led by Mr. Gary Cowan, First Assistant Secretary (North and South Asia Division) and John Geering, First Assistant Secretary (Europe and Latin America Division).