Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, the growing strategic convergence between India and France has come out clearly in Paris’ support for New Delhi’s position that Jammu and Kashmir can only be resolved through bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan.
In a pointed rebuff to Pakistan’s attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi earlier this week that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. In this telephonic conversation, Mr Le Drian asked India and Pakistan to resolve their differences over Kashmir through political dialogue and refrain from any step which is likely to exacerbate tensions.
The French foreign minister recalled France’s consistent position on Kashmir that it is up to the two countries, under the framework of their bilateral political dialogue, to resolve this dispute so as to establish lasting peace, according to a statement by the French Foreign Ministry.
France played a critical role in stalling a statement on the Kashmir situation during informal consultations in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on August 16, which was initiated at the request of China, an all-weather ally of Pakistan.
Amid Pakistan’s relentlessly hostile campaign to internationalise the Kashmir issue in the wake of the Indian government’s decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir after abolishing special status for it, the US, France and Russia have emerged as key pillars of support for India in the international arena.
During his talks with Mr Modi, the French president is expected to convey his country’s solidarity and understanding for India’s position on Kashmir that the recent reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir is an internal affair of India and does not have any external ramifications.
The talks in Paris on August 22 will culminate in a host of substantive outcomes in areas of defence, cyber security, maritime security, which will buttress France’s credentials as India’s leading strategic partner amid a shifting global geopolitical landscape.
Mr Macron’s visit to India last year saw a major a major strategic upgrade in the multi-faceted India-France partnership, with the two sides signing a landmark logistics pact, which allows reciprocal access to each other’s facilities for Indian and French armed forces. France was the first country with which India forged strategic partnership in 1998.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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