France President Emmanuel Macron to arrive in India today

Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi after their meeting, Macron said that stability in the Indian Ocean is important for the stability of the region.

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

Seeking cooperation by India over the military activities of both the countries, he said, "France wishes to get India's cooperation in the functioning of their military agencies and ensure a collective effort in monitoring the activities in space".

French is set to sign an Electrical energy agreement also various agreements on climate change and sanction of projects to "invest in the future of India".

The focus of the visit is as much on building a personal rapport between the two leaders as it is on stepping up the Indo-French defence and security partnership. "In the area of space, India and France have a matured engagement and we would like to take it to a new level", Naidu said.

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. Negotiations over the construction of next-generation nuclear reactors in India have been dragging on for years. "These two agreements will prepare the framework of close relations among our people and our youth", Prime Minister Modi explained.

France had wanted India to announce its interest in acquiring another 36 Rafale fighters, after the IAF inducts the first 36 jets being acquired under the Rs 59,000 crore contract (7.87 billion euro) mega deal inked in September 2016.

He will also co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

India says that access to solar technology is becoming a reality, with costs coming down and grid connectivity improving. France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative investment of over six billion dollars from April 2000 to October 2017.

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".

France mainly exports aircraft, medical instruments, organic chemicals, iron and steel, plastics, pharmaceuticals and chemical products to India. On Friday night, Macron arrived in New Delhi and Prime Minister Modi received him at the airport in a special gesture.

  • Joey Payne