India, France sign 14 defence, security, political cooperation deals

NEW DELHI, India and France signed 14 agreements on Saturday to enhance bilateral cooperation, including the fields of defence, security and politics.

In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said Prime Minister Narendra Modi held delegation level talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in New Delhi earlier today on a three-day visit.

During the talks both sides discussed, among other things, the fight against terrorism and maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

Both countries also exchanged 14 agreements in the fields of defence, security and nuclear energy.

Other major agreements pertain to the prevention of illicit consumption and traffic in narcotic drugs, migration and mobility partnership, technical cooperation in the field of railways mutual recognition of academic qualifications, and a pact regarding the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces.

Cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development, exchange and reciprocal protection of classified information, pre-formulation studies of a maritime awareness mission, cooperation in the matter of hydrography and maritime cartography, agreement for funding smart city projects and solar energy are other major areas of mutual understanding.

In a joint press conference with the French leader, Modi said, “our defence cooperation is very strong and we consider France among the most trusted defence partners.” He also underlined the growing convergence between the two countries on regional and international issues.

On his part, the French president explained his country’s wish to further deepen defence ties with India amid growing criticism of the Rafale fighter deal.

“India had made a sovereign decision in this respect (Rafale fighter jet) and we are monitoring the progress in the field. We very much want to continue the programme. It is a long-term contract which is mutually beneficial. I personally consider it as the heart of the strategic partnership,” the visiting French president said.

Both the leaders also condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and terror-related incidents in France and India.

“Terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds whatsoever it may be and it should not be associated with any religion, creed, nationality and ethnicity,” they said.

“They also called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing channels, and halting cross-border movement of terrorists,” it added.

Macron also met his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind, who asserted that the strategic ties between the two nations have been expanding in counter-terrorism and maritime and cyber-security areas from the traditional sectors of defence, space and civil nuclear energy. (end) atk.sd

Source: Kuwait News Agency