Emmanuel Macron calls India 'partner of choice' as he discusses defence, trade ties with Narendra Modi

French president Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that he wanted his country to be India's “partner of choice” in Europe as he started a four-day visit to India aimed at ratcheting up security and energy ties.

India and France have pledged to work together to ensure freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean and have signed an agreement to expedite the construction of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in India by a French company.

French president Emmanuel Macron with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

French president Emmanuel Macron with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

The nuclear agreement is considered significant, with critics saying that the Jaitapur nuclear plant, which will generate 9,900 megawatts of power in western India, is in a seismic zone. The six-reactor project with a capacity of 1650-MW each will be the largest nuclear power park in the country.

The two countries also signed an accord to step up military cooperation in the Indian Ocean to counter China, which has been flexing its muscles in the region.

Another avenue that both nations decided to work on bilaterally was counter-terrorism. "India and France have decided to work together to deal with threats of terrorism and radicalisation," Macron said after having talks with Modi. "Defence cooperation between the two countries now has a new significance," he added.

The first day of the French president’s visit was quite productive, as he also signed 14 MoUs with India, which included agreements on issues related migration, railways, the environment and so on. Besides maritime security and counter-terrorism, business and trade initiatives will also be high on the French president’s agenda during the visit.

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. The nations have a very rich economic partnership with around 1,000 French companies operating in India and having invested close to $7 billion.

The 40-year-old president, who is travelling with a delegation of French companies that includes EDF (EDF.PA), Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), Schneider Electric (SCHN.PA) and Suez (SEVI.PA), will also inaugurate a solar plant built by Engie (ENGIE.PA) in Uttar Pradesh.

He will also co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The ISA, an alliance of more than 121 countries, was initiated by Prime Minister Modi in January 2016. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

As per NDTV reports, this move by Macron is likely to galvanize Modi's initiatives on mitigating the effects of climate change with the use of renewable energy.

The French President stated that the visit will open a new era of strategic partnership in the coming decades. The visit aims at strengthening bilateral economic, political and strategic dimensions of engagement between the nations. Besides, the visit is also aimed at forging not only strong manufacturing and technology partnerships, but also greater people-to-people contacts.

The last visit of Macron to India was in January 2016, when he was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. Modi had last visited France in June last year.

With inputs from agencies

Tags/Keywords: Emmanuel Macron, Narendra Modi, New Delhi, Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, France, International Solar Alliance

Updated Date: Mar 10, 2018 16:00 PM

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