France best partner for India: Macron

Sunday, March 11, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said that France should be the best partner for India and the entry point to Europe.

Macron, who arrived here on Friday on a four-day visit to India during the course of which he will co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said he has three purposes for this visit.

Speaking to media after being accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here, he said the first one is to open a new era in the India-France Strategic Partnership "in terms of defence and security, in terms of research and science, especially in terms of our youth, higher education and science".

"It is absolutely critical because our two democracies have common challenges regarding terrorism, a lot of common risks, a lot of threats," Macron said.

"The second purpose of this trip is to organise this International Solar Alliance (conference)," he said.

"The third objective of this visit is to deliver the message that France should be the best partner for India, especially in Europe, the entry point for Europe.

"And I aim to have more and more Indian citizens coming to France studying, becoming a partner, creating start-ups and I want my country to be your best partner in Europe."

Modi and Macron will hold a bilateral summit later on Saturday following which a number of agreements across multiple sectors are expected to be signed.

On Sunday, Modi and Macron will co-chair the founding conference of the India-initiated ISA, which was launched by Modi and then French President Francois Hollande during the Paris Climate Summit in 2015.

The ISA is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

Till Thursday, 60 countries had signed the framework agreement of the ISA and another 30 submitted the instruments of ratification.

Sunday's conference will be attended by 23 of those who have submitted the instruments of ratification and 24 of those who have signed the framework agreement.

During the course of his stay in India, Macron will also visit Agra and Varanasi and have a town hall interaction with students in New Delhi.

During his visit to Varanasi on Monday, he will inaugurate a 75 MW solar plant built by French firm Engie Solar in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.

This is Macron's first visit to India after he assumed office in May in 2017.

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