11 March, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday said he wanted his country to be India's best partner in Europe as he started a three-day trip to the country aimed at ratcheting up security and energy ties. "India and France have chose to work together to deal with threats of terrorism and radicalisation", Macron said after having talks with Modi.
The French president said he wanted to double the number of Indian students coming to France and increase the number of French students going to India.
Shivani Singh, an Indian researcher on nuclear security, said France, like India, is an Indian Ocean power with a similar culture of strategic autonomy.
One of the key agreements is a reciprocal logistics support deal between the respective armed forces of India and France.
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President Macron, who arrived in New Delhi late Friday night with wife Brigitte and top French businessmen and officials, was greeted by PM Modi at the airport. Detailed discussions on specific projects including on the Scorpene submarine programme for the Indian Navy was also discussed during the Sitharaman-Parly talks. Modi spoke about the warm reception Macron gave him when he travelled to Paris past year. 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.
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In a direct reference to China's aggressive stance in South China Sea, Macron said sea lanes should be free from aggression and any kind of domination over those can not be tolerated.
The joint strategic vision for Indian Ocean calls for France and India committing "to utilizing every opportunity of their naval ships calling at each other's ports for holding passage exercises". India has been France's first ally in the region.
President Macron also visited the library of the Alliance francaise in New Delhi on Saturday morning.
The French President emphasised on the need of boosting people to people exchange between Indian and France. India and France have pledged to achieve reduction in emissions as committed in Paris.
India already has a rocket capable of putting a four-ton class crew module in space using the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MK III and a rudimentary crew module has already been tested in 2014. 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.