India, France to work for Indian Ocean freedom of navigation

Emmanuel Macron wants France to replace Britain as India's 'gateway to Europe'

French President Emmanuel Macron, in India on a four-day visit, said today that New Delhi is a strategic partner of France in South Asia and "we want to be your (partner) in Europe".

The countries inked key pacts in the strategic areas of security, nuclear energy and protection of classified information after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron will also visit Agra, and have a town hall interaction with students in New Delhi.

This content is restricted to site members. France also supports India's entry in the Indian Ocean Commission (lOC) as an Observer, and encourages its growing involvement in European Union projects for the Indian Ocean, the statement said.

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The visiting leader asserted that the sea lanes can not be places for hegemonic power play, in a clear reference to China.

Speaking to media after being accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Macron said he has three purposes for this visit.

Both President Macron and Prime Minister Modi expressed their deep satisfaction with the swift implementation and operationalization of the bilateral White Shipping Agreement signed in January 2017.

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India and France also reaffirmed the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system and the importance of enhancing free, fair, and open trade for achieving sustainable growth and development. A "Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region" was also agreed upon by both countries in order to maintain the safety of global sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications in accordance with the worldwide law, for countering maritime terrorism and piracy, for building maritime domain awareness, for capacity building and for greater coordination in regional/international fora in the region.

Later, Modi tweeted, "Held important talks with President @EmmanuelMacron". France congratulates India on its leadership at lORA and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

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. "Tomorrow, we are co-hosting the International Solar Alliance and the presence of the French President at the founding conference will take our climate partnership to newer heights", President Kovind added.

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He said African countries and their people are best qualified to say whether China-Africa cooperation is good or not. Donald Trump's interaction with Africa since he was sworn in as America's president has been cold and limited.

The French president's visit comes just a week after the much-talked-about trip of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to India. Modi had last visited France in June past year.

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