NEW DELHI (AP) — The French foreign minister said Wednesday that the war in Ukraine will not overshadow France’s commitments to the Indo-Pacific region, where India and its allies view China’s rising influence with suspicion.
Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and her Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar discussed the security situation in the region and the consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including concerns about food security and rising inflation, officials said.
Colonna said the two countries share the same concern about China's role in the region.
“We spoke a lot about the general situation in the Indo-Pacific and the many challenges that have emerged because of China. We have basically the same analysis, we also share the same concerns, because we know the role the Chinese are playing and we want to make sure that there is no imbalance in the Indo-Pacific,” Colonna said at a news briefing.
Jaishankar said that it was important for like-minded countries to work together in the region to ensure peace, security and prosperity. “We consider France as an Indo-Pacific player that has a long-standing presence in the Indian Ocean,” he added.
Indian and Chinese soldiers last week began pulling back from a key friction point on their disputed border as part of efforts to lower tensions in a more than two-year standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes. The two countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along the de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
In June 2020, India said it lost 20 troops and China said it lost four soldier when the two sides fought with clubs, stones and fists.
Jaishankar said Wednesday that the disengagement of troops was completed.
Colonna said France is working to ensure that food coming from Ukraine, which is essential for many countries, continues in the form of exports while the European Union strives to ensure transparency in the market so that prices remain reasonable.
Colonna and Jaishankar echoed calls to find solutions to end the war. “There should be a return to dialogue and diplomacy,” Jaishankar told reporters.
Colonna, who is on a three-day visit to India, will travel to Mumbai on Thursday, where she will meet with industry leaders.