He will co-chair the 4th India-France Annual Defence Dialogue with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

In a visible sign of growing cooperation between India and France, particularly in the defence sector, French Minister of Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu visited the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant on Saturday.

"On board the INS Vikrant, the Indian Navy's new aircraft carrier designed and built in India.

France and India are united in their resolve to defend their maritime sovereignty and guarantee freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region," the French Minister tweeted.

The French delegation interacted with Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral MA Hampiholi on board Vikrant. The French Minister acknowledged India's indigenous potential and self-reliance, the Ministry of Defence said.

"The discussions ranged from enhancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest to the maritime challenges in the IOR. The visit further consolidated the strategic bilateral relations between both the countries," the ministry noted.

Lecornu, who is visiting India from November 26-28, will co-chair the 4th India-France Annual Defence Dialogue with India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

"He will take his opportunity to highlight the importance of Indo-French naval cooperation for security and stability in the Indo-Pacific," the French Embassy in India had said on the eve of his visit.

This is the French Defence Minister's first visit to India after assuming office.

India and France have close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into a Strategic Partnership, marking convergence of their views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship.

India and France are partners in defence and armaments, contributing to India’s policy of strategic autonomy in the defence sector through numerous industrial cooperation.