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Source: Economictimes

“India, France and Australia have finalised their agenda for a trilateral mechanism in the Indo-Pacific region and will support the development of smaller states including island nations to reduce their excessive dependence on China, ET has learnt.

In a meeting held on Wednesday, the three nations decided to focus on better coordination in the Indo-Pacific region with special focus on disaster management, oil spill management, disaster resilience of small island states, renewable energy and marine ecosystems, ET has reliably gathered.

The Indian side was led by Sandeep Chakravorty, Joint Secretary (Europe West) Ministry of External Affairs, while the French side was led by Bertrand Lortholary, Director (Asia and Oceania). The Australian side was led by Gary Cowan, First Assistant Secretary (North and South Asia Division) and John Geering, First Assistant Secretary (Europe and Latin America Division) of its foreign ministry.

India has been at the forefront of assisting many states in the Indo-Pacific region during times of natural disasters, including the 2004 tsunami.

Last year, India came to rescue of certain states to combat the Covid-19 virus outbreak and later gifted vaccines.

It also assisted Mauritius and Sri Lanka to handle an oil spill last year.

The development of a ‘blue economy’ – sustainable exploitation and preservation of the marine ecosystem — for Indo-Pacific states is also one of India’s priorities.

While the Indian Indo-Pacific construct extends from Eastern Africa to the Pacific, France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has territories in the Indian Ocean Region as well as the Pacific Region. Australia’s Indo-Pacific construct – from the eastern coast of India stretches to the Pacific Ocean – with Canberra placing India as a key partner in the region.

Earlier, during a foreign secretary-level dialogue, the three sides discussed economic and geostrategic challenges and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and domestic responses to it.

The three countries plan to cooperate on marine global commons and potential areas for practical cooperation and through regional organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Commission.

The objective is to synergise respective strengths to ensure a peaceful, secure, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific Region, sources said.

India has trilateral dialogues involving Australia-Indonesia; Japan-Australia; US-Japan, besides Russia-Japan and Russia-China.”