NEW DELHI: In an effort to shore up its presence in the western Indian Ocean, a geopolitical hotbed where India is looking to expand its security and economic cooperation with the US and France in the face of increasing Chinese presence, the
Wednesday carried out its first joint patrol with Madagascar.
The Indian embassy said in a statement that, in a first, the navies of India and Madagascar undertook
of Madagascar’s EEZ.
"INS Shardul and Malagasy Naval Ship Trozona undertook Joint Patrol of Madagascar’s Exclusive Economic Zone today and participated in PASSEX (
)," it said.
The joint patrolling and exercise followed remarks by Madagascar defence minister Richard Rakotonirina, in an interview to TOI last month, that Madagascar wanted to gain from "maritime superpower" India through joint military exercises, capacity building and establishment of a semaphore system on the coast for white shipping.
"The first ever Joint Patrol between the navies of India and Madagascar reflects the growing defence ties between the two Indian Ocean neighbours aimed at the common objective of ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region," said the embassy in its statement.
Rakotonirina had visited India in the first week of February to participate in the Aero India 2021 and IOR defence ministers conclave in Bengaluru.
"India remains committed to further strengthening its partnership with Madagascar that aligns with Prime Minister
’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region) for the Indian Ocean Region," added the embassy in its statement.
"For Indian Ocean countries, India represents a security umbrella which maintains peace and prosperity in the area," Rakotonirina had told TOI last month, adding that Madagascar wanted to consolidate its defence cooperation with India through a Malagasy-Indian joint commission.
Acknowledging the strategic significance of western Indian Ocean, where China continues to invest heavily in infrastructure and connectivity, the foreign ministry had in 2019 brought countries in the region under one umbrella, namely the Indian Ocean Region Division which handled
, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles.
This division now also deals with Madagascar, Comoros and the French Reunion in the western Indian Ocean.