France proposes €1-bn credit line for India's sustainable infra projects

France has proposed to give India a €1-billion ($1.4 billion) line of credit to finance sustainable infrastructure and urban development projects. The credit line to be delivered through the French Development Agency, would be available over three years,

French foreign minister Laurent FabiusFrench foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who began his India visit on Monday, made the announcement on Tuesday.

Fabius called on the prime minister Narendra Modi today, and invited him to visit France. Both sides reiterated their commitment to further strengthen and expand the bilateral relationship.

Recalling the strategic and friendly ties between the two countries, the prime minister sought French cooperation in the field of urban planning and heritage conservation in India.

France had provided technical support for the Ahmedabad Heritage Project, Modi said, adding that India has plans to build heritage cities and 100 new smart cities. ''France has the expertise to help us in this regard,'' he said.

Modi also cited the launch of the French satellite, SPOT-7, which was placed in orbit by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from Sriharikota to drive home the strategic partnership between the two countries.

The prime minister also sought French cooperation in the fields of tourism, skill development and low-cost defence manufacturing.

The French foreign minister also discussed a student exchange programme and further deepening of the technological cooperation between the two countries in order to expand cooperation with the new government that assumed power in India. The issue of terrorism also figured in the talks.

The meeting was attended by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, India's ambassador to France Arun Singh, Ambassador of France to India Francois Richier and other officials.

Fabius is the first of a string of Western politicians due to visit India over the next few weeks for talks with Modi and his government, drawn in part by the prospect of lucrative defence deals that stalled under the last administration.

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