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Indian Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande leaves for France on 4-day visit, will hold talks with top military brass

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande on Sunday left for France on a four-day visit with an aim to further strengthen the "bonds of trust" between the Indian and French armies amid the fast-evolving security matrix and the geopolitical situation.

Gen Pande will hold extensive talks with the top military brass of France including the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Chief of the Army Staff and the Commander of the Land Combat Forces.

"The Chief of the Army Staff has proceeded on a visit to France from November 14 to 17.

"During the four-day visit, he will be meeting his counterparts and senior military leadership of France with an aim to enhance defence cooperation between both the nations," the Army said.

It said Gen Pande will lay a wreath at Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial, which commemorates the sacrifices of 4,742 Indian soldiers during the First World War.

"He is scheduled to call on the Chief of the Defence Staff, Chief of the Army Staff, and Commander Commandement des Forces Terrestres (CFT) / Command of the Land Combat Forces, where he will discuss avenues for enhancing India-France defence relations," the Army said in a statement.

It said the Army Chief will be visiting Ecole Militaire, comprising various military training establishments in Paris, and address senior staff officers attending a course at Ecole de Guerra-T, which is a French military academy.

He will also be visiting Military Schools at Draguignan, which are premier training establishments that train commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers.

"The ever-expanding defence cooperation engagements which encompass a broad spectrum of activities have established a strong bonhomie across every level of the two Armies," the Army said.

"The visit of the Chief of Army Staff to France will further strengthen the bonds of trust and understanding between the two armies," it said. G

Gen Pande's trip to France comes days after Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force General Stephane Mille visited India. The French commander held wide-ranging talks with Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Gen Pande.

The military cooperation between India and France has witnessed a major expansion in the last few years. In August, a French Air and Space Force contingent, including three Rafale jets, made a strategically crucial stopover at the IAF's Sulur base in Tamil Nadu as part of a mega military operation it carried out in the Pacific Ocean.

In March, the Indian and French navies carried out a five-day mega wargame in the Arabian Sea, involving frontline ships, submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

The Indian and French navies in April last year too carried out a mega wargame in the Arabian Sea.

The French Navy deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its entire carrier strike group in that exercise, reflecting growing congruence in naval ties.

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