SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 5 December 2021, Sunday |

Indo-Pacific a priority for France’s EU presidency, foreign minister says

France will prioritize the Indo-Pacific region when it assumes the presidency of the European Union next year, its foreign minister said on Wednesday during a visit to Indonesia.

Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated that France wants to be the “go-between” for Indo-Pacific and European countries, and that strategic cooperation is one of the country’s priorities for the EU presidency.

The visit comes as France embarks on an offensive to strengthen its Asian relationships following the loss of a strategic agreement with Australia in September.

“At the heart of this commitment is our vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, based on the rule of law, and respectful of every state’s sovereignty,” he told a news conference through an interpreter.

Le Drian also stated that France had agreed to invest 500 million euros ($562.10 million) in energy transition projects in the Southeast Asian country. He didn’t go into specifics.

He was speaking with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, and had previously met with the country’s defense minister.

Later on Wednesday, Le Drian was to meet with President Joko Widodo.

France has accused Australia of betrayal after it chose submarines built with US and British technology over those built with French technology.

Australia excluded France when it formed a trilateral security alliance (AUKUS) with the United Kingdom and the United States, ostensibly to counter China’s military rise in the region.