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India, France To Make Logistics Pact Operational, Explore Tri-Service Military Exercise

India and France have resolved to soon operationalize their bilateral military logistics pact inked in March to provide refueling, repair and berthing facilities to each other’s warships and aircraft, even as the two countries discuss the possibility of holding a joint tri-Service exercise sometime in 2019-2020.

This came up during defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to France on October 11-12 for the first annual defence dialogue with her French counterpart Florence Parly, who also handed over a letter from President Emmanuel Macron for PM Narendra Modi to reaffirm the expanding bilateral strategic partnership, said sources on Monday.

The logistics pact with France, the second such reciprocal agreement after the first one with the US, will allow Indian warships access to French bases at the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. France, incidentally, also has a naval air station in Abu Dhabi (UAE).

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) inked with the US in 2016, in turn, gives India access to American bases in Djibouti, Diego Garcia, Guam and Subic Bay. Both the pacts, coupled with other moves to establish a couple of turn-around bases in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries, are crucial for India to expand its naval footprint to counter China’s strategic moves in the region. 

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