France aspires to become the best European partner for India

AP PHOTO/Manish Swarup

French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday said he wanted his country to be India’s best partner in Europe as he started a four-day trip to the country which is aimed at ratcheting up security and energy ties.

“France is the entry point to Europe. We want to be India’s best partner in Europe,” Macron said after a ceremonial reception at New Delhi’s presidential house.

Macron, who was welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his traditional bear hug on his arrival late Friday, also said “collective security” will be on top of the agenda during talks later Saturday.

“The first is to seal for the decade to come a strong pact around collective security in the region between our two democracies.”

The two countries are to sign an accord to step up military cooperation in the Indian Ocean, AFP reported.

“The visit of President Macron is aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic, political and strategic dimension of our engagement,” India’s External Affairs Ministry said earlier in a statement.

Bilateral trade between India and France touched nearly 11 billion US dollars during April 2016 to March 2017. France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India.

Macron also talked about his personal rapport with Modi which was established after their meeting in Paris last year.

“I think we have very good chemistry, our two great democracies have a historic relationship,” the French president said.

Modi received Macron at the airport Friday, exchanging warm hugs and robust handshakes.

“Welcome to India, President @EmmanuelMacron! Your visit will add great strength to the strategic partnership between India and France,” he tweeted Friday.

Modi and Macron will co-chair the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on Sunday, a flagship Indian initiative launched by the two countries on sidelines of Paris Climate Conference in 2015.

Travelling with his wife Brigitte, the French president will also visit the monument to love, the Taj Mahal, a few hours’ drive from the Indian capital on Sunday.

On Monday, he heads to the Hindu holy city of Varanasi on the banks of the river Ganges.

AFP, Xinhua News Agency



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