PARIS, French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday discussed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a variety of bilateral and global issues and both were largely in agreement on ways to tackle these, while further developing their “strategic partnership” and defence and economic cooperation.
Speaking in a joint press statement after “one-on-one” talks at the Chateau de Chantilly, near Paris, Macron praised the development in relations with India and vowed to continue cooperation on the environment, ecological programs, technology transfer, Cyberspace security, defence and the fight against terrorism.
He promised to “deepen the Strategic Partnership” that has shown “important progress” since it was put in place when the French leader visited India in 2018.
Macron noted that military ties had expanded with the sale of Rafale high-tech fighter bombers to India, and he revealed the first of 36 Rafales would be delivered to India in September.
He said France was contributing more and more to maritime security in the Indian waters and had sent six naval vessels, including its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, to take part in joint exercises some months ago alongside six Indian navy ships.
In space exploration, France and India are working on exchanges and reciprocal participation in certain space programed, which India is moving forward on particularly for its lunar program.
On terrorism, both leaders agreed on the need to counter this scourge and they support tracking terrorist perpetrators whom they say should be “identified and listed with the United Nations”.
Bilateral “defence cooperation is solid” and is based on “unshakable confidence,” Macron, noting “we have already had results”.
On civil nuclear technology and energy supply, he said that “the last details” were being worked out to soon supply India with a nuclear power station and options on more are on the horizon.
Trade is therefore increasing sharply, Macron remarked, noting a 25 percent increase in activity over the past two years.
Other areas being explored include transport, durable urban projects and water supply.
“Just as France chose India, India chose France,” the French President said with satisfaction.
Concerning the disputed area of Kashmir, Macron said “it is up to Indian and Pakistan to resolve this issue bilaterally,” as France believes Jammu-e-Kashmir belongs both to India and Pakistan in line with international rulings.
But Macron agreed with Modi that a halt must be brought to cross-border terrorism that has targeted the Indian military in Kashmir.
For his part, Modi praised France’s initiatives to improve relations and expand trade and other agreements.
“French companies have an important role in the development of India,” he stated.
Concerning defence ties, Modi stressed that Defence Cooperation is “a pillar in the relations between India and France”.
He confirmed the first high-tech Rafale plane will be delivered to the Indian Air Force next month and he also confirmed intentions to move quickly on deals with French civil nuclear energy entities.
Modi, who is a special guest at the forthcoming G7 meeting that begins Saturday, underlined the “global challenges” facing international cooperation, with terrorism high on the agenda, in addition to trade and environmental challenges and the many crises ongoing around the globe.
On Cyberspace security, Modi indicated that India and France have adopted “a road map” to deal with this question and also with digitalization issues.
Modi also welcomed increases in exchanges between students from India and France and he noted 250,000 French nationals visited India in 2018, while 750,000 Indians came to France on holidays last year, marking an uptick in tourism.
Source: Kuwait News Agency