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On India visit, France's President Macron stresses defence ties, environment

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10 March 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron, in India on a four-day visit, said today that New Delhi is a strategic partner of France in South Asia and "we want to be your (partner) in Europe."

 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron in New Delhi on 10 march 2018  

Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi after their meeting, Macron said that stability in the Indian Ocean is important for the stability of the region.

Modi, who spoke before President Macron, said "In defence, we welcome investments in Make in India from France".

The two countries have signed 14 agreements today.

"India and France have decided to work together to deal with threats of terrorism and radicalisation," said Macron. "Defence cooperation between the two countries now has a new significance."

Modi, speaking in Hindi as usual, said, "India and France have always had good ties with African nations, which gives us another opportunity to come closer.

"For the future of planet earth, we are committed to the international solar alliance. I am sure you (Macron) will experience the wisdom of India in Varanasi. In the next two days, President Macron and I will continue to discuss various ideas and issues."

Macron is scheduled to visit Modi's constituency Varanasi. Both leaders will take a boat ride on the Ganga, which will include a private lunch. They will also visit Mirzapur to inaugurate a 100 MW solar power plant. President Macron and his wife will also visit the Taj Mahal.

Modi said that India and France have taken a big leap forward in ties. "Be it land, water, air, or space, our cooperation and ties bind us together in all," he said.

''Our ties when it comes to defence cooperation are deep. There are many war drills conducted between the armies of our two nations.

"In the future, Indian Ocean will play a crucial role in peace and stability, whether it is about environment or freedom of navigation," said the Indian Prime Minister.

"This is why we are implementing a joint strategic vision for the Indian Ocean today," he said. "The most important are our people-to-people ties," he added.

Macron said, "Stability in the Indian Ocean is very important for the stability of the entire region, and we are with India for freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific."

Later, Modi tweeted, ''Held important talks with President @EmmanuelMacron. We discussed several areas of India-France cooperation, particularly in defence, security, trade and people-to-people ties.''

As PM Modi and President Macron met, the French presidency said in a statement that French and Indian companies today signed contracts worth 13 billion ($16 billion).

Macron, 40, began his official engagements this morning, when he was given a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.

"Our aim is to begin a new era in ties between our two countries. For France, India is our priority and has always been. India has been France's first ally in the region. It is the entry point for France in the region, and my aim is to make France the entry point for India to Europe," Macron said. He later visited Rajghat.

President Macron met foreign minister Sushma Swaraj this morning. "They exchanged views on enhancing strategic partnership in trade and investment, defence and security, culture, education and people-to-people ties," tweeted foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

The French President arrived in Delhi on Friday accompanied by his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, businessmen and top officials. Prime Minister Modi received Macron at the airport and greeted him with his trademark hug.

Modi and President Macron will co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), on Sunday. The ISA is a flagship Indian initiative launched by Modi and the French president on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference in 2015. This meeting assumes extra significance in the light of the United States under President Trump pulling out of the Paris accord. India and France have pledged to achieve reduction in emissions as committed in Paris.

The last visit of a French President to India was in January 2016, when President Francois Hollande was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. Modi had visited France in June last year, immediately after Macron was elected president.





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