India and France on Monday began their week-long bilateral naval exercise Varuna in France's Toulon port. The Indian contingent comprises Indian Naval Ships Mumbai, Trishul and Aditya, part of Indian Navy's Overseas Deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the west coast of Africa, and part of an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden.
Another Indian Naval Ship Tarkash, which is also a part of this group, has proceeded to London. Mumbai, Trishul, and Aditya, will be at Toulon for three days, which will include the harbour phase of the joint exercise. After that, the exercise's sea leg will start, and Tarkash will also have interactions with the French Navy as a part of the exercise later.
The current visit seeks to underscore India's peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly and like-minded countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen the existing bonds between India and France.
· The Varuna series of exercises began in 2000 and have grown into an institutionalised form of interaction between the two navies. The last installment was held off the Indian coast.
· Joint defence exercises create stability and understanding between nations, build personal and institutional links between the countries' military forces, and reinforce political, economic and commercial, and cultural linkages between the countries.