India has signed White Shipping agreement with France to share information on maritime traffic and maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The agreement was signed on January 19 in the wake of China's expanding naval attacks in the area where India is looking to establish itself as the net security provider.
The agreement was signed when both the countries held their second dialogue on maritime cooperation for the Indian Ocean Region, The Economic Times reported Tuesday.
The White Shipping Agreement will be implemented over the next few months enabling Navies of India and France to coordinate their roles in stabilizing Indo-Pacific region. It will enhance Indo-French maritime security cooperation in the region.
The Indo-French dialogue also has emphasized on Freedom of Navigation in IOR and Pacific.
To counter China's territorial claims and dominance in the South China Sea region, Delhi and Paris have been coordinating their naval movements and surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region over few years.
While France retains interests and assets with territories like Reunion Islands in the IOR, China is expanding interests in IOR with presence in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives has been closely followed by Delhi which has major security and trade interests in the IOR. In 2015, India and France firmed up cooperation on sharing of radars in the Indian Ocean.
While India is setting up a grid of coastal surveillance radars in the IOR that will enable it to monitor the increasing Chinese presence in the area, France has interest in sharing data from surveillance systems on its Indian Ocean territories.
French territories in the region include Mayotte, besides military bases in UAE and Djibouti.
About six India's coastal surveillance radars have been set up in Sri Lanka, eight in Mauritius and one in Seychelles as well as in Maldives.
Beijing has been seeking to expand its footprints in the IOR as part of the grand Maritime Silk Route under overarching Belt & Road Initiative, experts said.
Besides Beijing wants to safeguard the Sea Lanes of Communication through which its trade passes amid growing incidents of piracy along Africa's Eastern coast. Seychelles has been viewed by China as a possible replenishment port for navy ships taking part in anti-piracy operations in the region.
The Indian Navy has been watchful of the Chinese anti-piracy movements in the region with concern that Beijing is slowly raising the size and frequency of its deployments.
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