New Delhi: France, India, and Australia trilateral is all set to be elevated to leaders level as President Emmanuel Macron, PM Narendra Modi and PM Scott Morrison meet is being envisaged. The meet is likely to happen on the sidelines of any major multilateral summit. G20 summit in Italy in October could provide an opportunity for a meet.
The development comes almost a year after the group first met at the Secretary level. The France, India, Australia trilateral was launched in September 2020 at Foreign Secretaries’ levels with three joint priorities– maritime security, environment, and multilateralism.
May saw the first Foreign ministers meet on the sidelines of the G7 summit in London. Indian External Affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Australian FM Marise Payne met & discussed a number of issues.
The focus of the grouping has been on Indo-Pacific largely. Remember both France and Australia are part of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative(IPOI) announced by India in 2019. In fact, Paris announced that it will join IPOI and take the lead of its ‘Maritime Resources’ pillar during the French foreign minister’s visit to New Delhi in April 2020. The mandate of the trilateral is being expanded. Ahead of the G20 FMs meet in Italy, the trilateral had coordinated amongst themselves on a joint strategy at the forum.
Earlier this year also saw the grouping having met at the senior officials level. The Indian side was led by Joint Secretary (Europe West) in MEA, Sandeep Chakravorty, French by Bertrand Lortholary, Director (Asia and Oceania), and the Australian side was led by Gary Cowan, First Assistant Secretary (North and South Asia Division). An official level meeting is also expected to happen in September.