New Delhi: Asserting that India and France are at the forefront of the call for peace, dialogue and diplomacy over the Russia Ukraine war, Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron are among few leaders who have had regular contact with Moscow and Kyiv to maintain an open channel of communication.

"Only apt that India and France, which have always sought, and succeeded, in maintaining strategic autonomy, are at the forefront of the call for peace, dialogue and diplomacy. Prime Minister Modi and President Macron are among the few leaders who have had regular contact with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine and continue to maintain an open channel of communication with them," Shringla said at the India-France Track 1.5 Dialogue.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday, the Foreign Secretary said that both the countries have been longstanding friends and strategic partners.

"As resident powers of the Indo-Pacific, they have a shared understanding of the challenges, opportunities and stakes in the region. The bilateral relationship has been dominated by cooperation in traditional fields such as defence and security, science and technology, space and cultural contact," he said.

"Both countries understand this very well, which is why they are rapidly expanding their cooperation to non-traditional areas, such as digital, cybersecurity, green energy and sustainable development, he added.

Speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Secretary said that the world had to face its biggest non-traditional threat in decades in the form of the pandemic. "In response, India and France worked in coordination and collaboration, helping each other out in difficult times, while also contributing to global efforts to fight the pandemic, whether in the form of financial assistance or through the supply of life-saving drugs, especially vaccines."

He further said that India and Frace have excellent cooperation as can be seen in the successful development of India's fastest supercomputer "Param-Siddhi-AI" under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) by India's Centre for Development of Advanced Computing or C-DAC and the French company Atos.

"There is also an increasing realisation that the 5G networks that are coming up in the two countries have to be safe and secure. Both India and France are committed to finding solutions to risks associated with 5G technology, Shringla said.

He also informed that India too has launched an ambitious National Hydrogen Mission, which will contribute to the five key climate targets or the Panchamrit that our Prime Minister announced at the COP26 Summit last year.