In Brief: Understanding The India-France-UAE Trilateral Better

by Swarajya Staff - Sep 22, 2022 08:18 PM +05:30 IST
In Brief: Understanding The India-France-UAE Trilateral BetterThe India-France-UAE Trilateral (Twitter)
  • Why India, France, and UAE seek mutual cooperation.

Recently, a trilateral meeting between India, France and the UAE was held on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session in New York. The countries were represented by their foreign ministers S Jaishankar, Catherine Colonna and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, respectively.

While not much has been said after this trilateral, a look at the topics mentioned in a previous meeting of the diplomats of the three countries held in July at New Delhi— Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Blue Economy, Regional Connectivity, Cooperation in Multilateral Fora, Energy and Food Security, Innovation and Startups, Supply Chain Resilience and Cultural and People-to-People Cooperation, point to the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific as the pivot behind this trilateral.

While we are mostly familiar with the areas of cooperation between India and UAE, if we have to understand the France-UAE-India trilateral better, what needs to be examined is the relationship that UAE enjoys with France. 

France has a sizeable presence in UAE, which might surprise many. Abu Dhabi has a branch of the world-famous Louvre Museum, campuses of Sorbonne University and also INSEAD, a top French B-School. There are around 30,000 French expats in the UAE. There is even a 4km stretch in the city named after the former French President Jacques Chirac.

During a recent visit of the UAE leader to France, MoU’s were signed in areas like energy cooperation to reduce France’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, space exploration including human spaceflight, technology and higher education. All of these point to the close and increasing ties between France and UAE.

Trilateral diplomacy

Up till recently, India’s foreign relations have been dominated by summits and bilaterals. Even so, this was not India's first trilateral of recent times.

India is already a part of the France- India-Australia trilateral. And starting with the Quad, followed by the I2U2 (Israel-India-USA-UAE), there has been a shift towards smaller non-regional groupings.

Why or how is it that diplomacy in smaller groupings is now afoot?

France has been a historic power in the region (through its various island territories), while Australia recently started making moves towards strengthening itself under the previous PM Scott Morrison (example, the AUKUS deal).

The UAE has been trying to project itself as a West Asian power, willing to modernise at a rapid pace. While India’s bilateral relations with all these countries have grown over the last few years, its role at the centre of the Indo-Pacific has been well and truly recognised by all those with a significant stake in the region.

Recent trilaterals have taken India's well-established bilateral relationships to the next level by force of geopolitics and the eagerness to look for new forms of cooperation.

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