Macron and Modi vow to 'act jointly' after subs dispute

Mr Emmanuel Macron (left) assured Indian PM Narendra Modi of France's continued commitment to the strengthening of India's strategic autonomy. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday (Sept 21) vowed to "act jointly" in the Indo-Pacific region, the French presidency said, as a row with Australia and the United States intensifies.

In telephone talks, both leaders said they would "act jointly in an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific area", days after Australia pulled out of a submarine contract with France in favour of US submarines as part of an alliance with Washington and Britain.

Mr Macron assured Mr Modi of France's continued "commitment to the strengthening of India's strategic autonomy, including its industry and technology base, as part of a close relationship based on trust and mutual respect".

The statement from Mr Macron's office said France and India's shared approach would be aimed at promoting "regional stability and the rule of law, while ruling out any form of hegemony".

Mr Macron's discussion with the Indian leader came before a planned conversation with US President Joe Biden.

France is furious with the US for secretly leading talks about a new strategic alliance, Aukus, and a deal for the delivery of American nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, calling the move "a stab in the back".

Australia informed France only hours before pulling out of the submarines deal, according to the French government.

Mr Biden has requested a conversation with Mr Macron, but no date has been set.

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