India, France and Japan are setting the pace for a new trilateral grouping to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Kicking off a workshop on maritime security and digital connectivity in the Indo-Pacific, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said, “India, France and Japan are leading stakeholders in the region and with other like-minded countries, it is upon us to ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains peaceful and open, taking into account needs and concerns of all its inhabitants.”
Speaking at the workshop organised by think tank ORF, French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, “We are building piece by piece a strategic triangle between Paris, Tokyo and Delhi committed to a rules-based Indo-Pacific order. We should now explore synergies among us.” Japan was represented by its ambassador Satoshi Suzuki, who said, “India is the indispensable partner in Japan’s endeavor to achieve our vision. A free and open Indo-Pacific is a natural shared goal for the two Asian maritime powers: Japan in the Pacific and India in the Indian Ocean.”
Shringla said the Indo-Pacific, for India, is the “vast maritime space stretching from the western coast of North America to the eastern shores of Africa.” He added that India was a net security provider in the region, as in peacekeeping and anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. Describing the trilateral’s strategy as cooperative, Lenain said, “We have seen a rapid change in the balance of power, including unilateral policies by some countries.”