General Elrick Irastorza, Chief of the French Army was in India for two days on the invitation of the Chief of the Indian Army General VK Singh who had visited France in March 2009. Two decades back, the General has had a memorable association with Indian Troops, while on deployment with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).
France and India share common values and have convergence of views on many issues that affect the emerging world order. Our bilateral cum defence cooperation is on an increase in multifaceted fields. Our military to military contacts from the apex to the functional levels have resulted in building of trust and confidence, which has been immensely beneficial. The highly successful recent visits to India of President Sarkozy in December and the French Chief of Defence Staff earlier in October 2010 are indicative of our strengthening Strategic Partnership. There is a scope for enhanced interactions between our Defence Forces, as we implement our respective modernisation and transformation plans to adapt to contemporary challenges. The Varuna and Garuda series of exercises between our Navies and Air Forces have been very useful. Commencing 2011, the Indian and the French Armies will commence Joint Exercises in India. This will be a landmark achievement and will lay the foundation for graduated road maps for substantive enhancement in our joint Exercise Objectives.
In the French Chiefs interactions with the top Indian defence hierarchy issues of mutual, regional and transnational interest are likely to be deliberated upon. This is the first visit by any COAS from a friendly Foreign Country to India in 2011. The visit is anticipated to further cement our military to military contacts and our defence diplomacy cum defence cooperation forays. Of late, there has been an exponential increase in Indian Army’s Defence Cooperation activities with key countries, to include France, as per our intensities of engagement.