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

India and France signed 14 agreements on the sidelines of French President Emmanuel Macron's four-day visit which began from Friday night. We very much want to continue the programme.

Welcoming the expanded joint statement K Radhakrishnan, former chairman of ISRO said it was a "major and positive step forward towards an Indian astronaut program" especially since both countries have had strong and fruitful co-operation both in space technology development and space commerce in the last five decades.

French defence minister Florence Parly, ahead of Macron's ongoing visit to India, had written to her Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman that France is keen to "initiate discussions on the proposal of providing an additional 36 aircraft to the IAF, with a very significant share of Make in India".

The agreement seeks to facilitate the reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies and services between the armed forces of the two countries during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts among others.

The Prime Minister also pointed out the close cooperation of India and France in key sectors. Earlier on Saturday morning, Macron and his wife Brigitte arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the French President inspected the guard of honour. Referring to maritime security cooperation, Modi and Macron reiterated that it will be crucial in order to maintain the safety of global sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications.

All of this has alarmed India, which sits at the heart of the Indian Ocean region.

He also laid importance on the strategic partnership between the two countries, which has crossed 20 years old.

At a joint press meet, Prime Minister Modi stressed on the importance of people-to-people relationship for furthering in the bilateral relations between India and France.

On his part, Macron stated that the defence cooperation between the two countries now has a new significance.

Adityanath met district officials and the police top brass and understood the travel plans of the French President and assessed the preparedness of the visit, an official said. The two leaders also presented a vision for a future where they will explore the Moon, Mars and particularly Venus.

On Sunday, India and France will co-host the first meeting of the International Solar Alliance, an initiative launched by the two countries on the sidelines of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

In a statement later on Saturday, Indian carrier Spice Jet disclosed details of the engine deal - it will spend $12.5 billion to buy engines from CFM International, the engine maker co-owned by General Electric and France's Safran, and have them serviced.

  • Rogelio Becker