Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures next to French President Emmanuel Macron

The two leaders discussed India-France cooperation on various subjects

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that a variety of bilateral issues, including the Indo-Pacific, were discussed. "I do recall that AUKUS came up, but it was not the major subject. There was no discussion on Quad," Shringla said, reported ANI.

The formation of the AUKUS, an Anglospheric alliance in the Indo-Pacific consisting of the US, the UK and Australia, had raised many hackles. First, analysts doubted whether the alliance would undermine Quad, the much-touted anti-China alliance between the US, India, Japan and Australia, since there was so much overlap in stated missions. Second, France was unceremoniously ejected from a defence deal with Australia, causing public anger in Paris. Macron had, in its immediate aftermath, dialled up PM Modi to speak about their Indo-Pacific strategy; he also called up Indonesia's Joko Widodo for 'true partnerships' in the region.

In the G20 summit, PM Modi was accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. "Delighted to meet my friend, President @EmmanuelMacron in Rome. Our talks revolved around enhancing cooperation in diverse areas and boosting people-to-people relations," Modi tweeted after the meeting.

The two leaders "discussed India-France cooperation on various subjects and reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership", Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. They also discussed global and regional developments, he added.

Briefing the media, Shringla said that Modi has invited Macron to visit India. "PM Modi welcomed the European Union's Indo-Pacific strategy," Shringla said, noting that during his meeting with the EU leaders on Friday, the prime minister highlighted that France had played an important role in facilitating EU Indo-Pacific strategy and he thanked the French president for his leadership role in developing this strategy.

"The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the Indo-Pacific, to find new and innovative ways to cooperate to further the objective of free, open and inclusive rules-based order in the region. There was also discussion on the forthcoming COP26 and climate change related issues and the need to focus on climate finance," Shringla added.