India will for the first time participate in a French-led joint naval exercise that also involves Japan, the United States and Australia, an Indian official said Wednesday.
La Perouse will be held on April 5-7, less than a month after Japan, the United States, Australia and India -- four major democracies in the Indo-Pacific region -- held their first summit meeting by videoconference.
The grouping known as the Quad is widely considered a united front put up in response to China's rise in nearby waters. France has some overseas territories in the Indian and Pacific oceans, where China has sought to increase its presence.
The French Embassy in New Delhi said in a statement on Wednesday that India will take part in the joint naval exercise for the first time, adding that the drill will "provide an opportunity for these five like-minded, high-end naval forces to develop closer links, sharpen their skills, and promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific."
According to the statement, two French Navy ships arrived in a port in southern India on Tuesday. After engaging in the naval drill in the Bay of Bengal, they will proceed to sail to Japan via the South China Sea.
Maritime cooperation between India and France has been growing steadily in the last few years. They are also set to hold a bilateral exercise in the western Arabian Sea in the coming weeks.
La Perouse was first held among Japan, the United States, Australia and France in 2019. Japan, the United States, Australia and India conducted a join exercise in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in November.