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SOURCE: PTI

Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Monday held wide-ranging talks with his French counterpart Gen Stephane Mille focusing on ways to boost bilateral military cooperation in the backdrop of various geopolitical developments.

The top-ranking French military official is on a visit to India. “General Stéphane Mille, Chief of Staff of the French Air & Space Force called on Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, #CAS at Air HQ, New Delhi today. The two Chiefs discussed ways & means to enhance bilateral ties & strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) tweeted.

It is learnt that the overall situation in the Indo-Pacific as well as the Indian Ocean Region figured in the talks between Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari and Gen Mille.

The visit by Gen Mile came amid an 18-day military exercise between the Indian and French air forces in Jodhpur.

The ‘Garuda VII’ exercise, involving a significant number of combat jets such as Rafale, Tejas, Jaguar and Sukhoi-30s, began on October 26 and will culminate on November 12. The French military official also met Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande.

“General Manoj Pande #COAS interacted with General Stephane Mille, Chief of Staff, French Air and Space Force & discussed aspects of #DefenceCooperation between both the defence forces,” the Army tweeted.

Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade also interacted with Gen Mille with a focus on bilateral operational engagement and mitigation of security concerns in the Indian Ocean region, according to the Navy.

The military cooperation between India and France has witnessed a major expansion in the last few years.

In August, a French Air and Space Force contingent, including three Rafale jets, made a strategically crucial stopover at the IAF’s Sulur base in Tamil Nadu as part of a mega military operation it carried out in the Pacific Ocean.

In March, the Indian and French navies carried out a five-day mega wargame in the Arabian Sea, involving frontline ships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

The Indian and French navies in April last year too carried out a mega wargame in the Arabian Sea.

The French Navy deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and its entire carrier strike group in that exercise, reflecting growing congruence in naval ties.