LAST UPDATED: March 31, 2021, 4:26 p.m.
Kochi: Two French warships have arrived at Kochi Port to take part in the La Peres joint military exercise. The two ships – Tonner and Frigate -will take part in a joint exercise led by the French Navy to be held in the Bay of Bengal.
Navies from the four QUAD countries will be involved in this exercise. The QUAD countries include India, USA, Australia and Japan.
The assault helicopter carrier Tonner and LaFayette class Sarcoff frigate will be in Kochi till April 1 and will then leave for the Bay of Bengal.
There will be a joint exercise from April 5 to 7. This is the first time the French Navy is going to conduct maneuvers with all four members of the QUAD. The first meeting of the QUAD countries was held on March 12.
The exercise will be followed by two important trilateral meetings of the Foreign Ministers of India and Australia between their counterparts in France and Indonesia in New Delhi next month. The Tonner and Sarkoff frigates left France in February for a major maneuver to be held in the Indo-Pacific. The French embassy said in a statement issued on Wednesday that this would strengthen interoperability with the region’s key allies, especially with India.
Along with this the deployment will also help train a new batch of 148 French naval officer cadets.
French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenin, who welcomed both warships, said, “I am proud of the extraordinary level our navies have achieved.” It is no surprise that India and the Indo-Pacific are at the center of training for a new generation of new naval officers.”
He also said that the La Perez practice would show a solid display of multilateralism at sea and our commitment to an independent and open Indo-Pacific. The two French warships will continue their deployment to the Indo-Pacific and then depart for Japan, before returning to France in mid-July and following joint exercises. During its voyage, the warships will sail through the South China Sea twice.
It is known that China has a dispute with many countries regarding the South China Sea and China has been claiming its territory as its own. However, members of the Quad have supported the South China Sea’s efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight. The first edition of the La Perez joint exercise launched by France in 2019 included warships from Australia, Japan and the US. This year, India is joining maneuvers for the first time.