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

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

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

Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi - addressing a news conference in New Delhi after signing the agreements - also committed to strengthening their partnership on defence andsecurity. "We want our (India and France) youth to know each other's countries, understand and work so that thousands of ambassadors are ready for our relations and in this direction we have signed two agreements today", he said. A "Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region" was also agreed upon by both countries in order to maintain the safety of global sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications in accordance with the worldwide law, for countering maritime terrorism and piracy, for building maritime domain awareness, for capacity building and for greater coordination in regional/international fora in the region.

India and France on Saturday committed to increase bilateral trade to 15 billion euro by 2022 and "timely relaunching" of negotiations on the India-EU free trade agreement. "The values of liberty, equality and fraternity echo not just in France but have been embedded in India's Constitution as well", said PM Modi.

India had signed a government-to-government deal with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of about the Rs 58,000-crore. After receiving a ceremonial welcome in Rashtrapati Bhawan, he had bilateral talks with PM Narendra Modi. Ahead of that visit, which he began in Xi'an, the original starting point of China's silk route, President Macron had told a Chinese website that he was convinced that the BRI could play a "major role in structuring the Eurasian region" and France was ready to play a "leading role" in it, words that could cause a furrow in the otherwise smooth ties between the two countries. The two leaders also presented a vision for a future where they will explore the Moon, Mars and particularly Venus.

In fact, French and Indian companies have already signed contracts worth 13 billion euros ($16 billion) on the first day of Macron's visit, the French presidency said in a statement. France congratulates India on its leadership at lORA and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

The visiting leader will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind and Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj will call on him.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that Modi and Sopoaga "exchanged views on strengthening cooperation in renewable energy, developmental assistance, blue economy and worldwide forums". He also said the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) was important for the peace and prosperity of the world.

The French President arrived in Delhi on Friday accompanied by his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, businessmen and top officials.

"We're in the middle of revolution on digital era and climate change". India and France have pledged to achieve reduction in emissions as committed in Paris. He will visit the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi Varanasi on March 12.

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