French President Emmanuel Macron arrived last night in Delhi
Deepening the strategic partnership between the two countries, India and France
on Saturday sealed business deals for 16 billion dollars and signed 14 agreements including security pacts that could help counter China's growing influence
in the Indian Ocean region. French President Emmanuel Macron, who was welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a bear hug
at the airport last evening, got down to business right away after a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. After meetings with Indian leaders, Mr Macron, 40, called New Delhi a strategic partner of France in South Asia and "we want to be yours in Europe".
Here are the latest developments in this story:
- PM Modi spoke of the many agreements that the two sides had signed, describing the outcome of his talks with the visiting French leader a big leap in ties. "Be it land, water, air, or space, our cooperation and ties bind us together in all," he said.
- As part of the defence cooperation agreement, both countries will open their naval bases to warships from each other. Mr Modi called the pact on reciprocal logistic support between the armed forces a "golden step" in defence relations.
- "Stability in the Indian Ocean region is very important for the stability of the entire region, and we are with India for freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific," Mr Macron said, as PM Modi stood by his side.
- The French President stressed "a strong part of our security and the world's stability" is at stake in the Indian Ocean that, like the Pacific Ocean, "cannot become a place of hegemony". The remarks were an apparent reference to China which New Delhi worries is creating a "string of pearls" that surrounds India and threatens its security.
- The 14 agreements include deals for cooperation in electric mobility of railways, education, environment, urban development, space cooperation and intelligence sharing. The two leaders also signed a joint vision for space cooperation that opens the doors for the two countries to embark on an astronaut programme.
- The two leaders also targeted starting work at the Jaitapur site by the end of this year to start building the world's largest nuclear power plant in the world, with a total capacity of 9.6 Gigawatts.
- The French President arrived last night in Delhi and is accompanied by his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, businessmen and top officials. In a statement by his office in Paris, contracts worth 13 billion euros ($16 billion) were signed on his first day in India.
- PM Modi and President Macron will co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), tomorrow. The ISA is a flagship Indian initiative launched by PM Modi and the French president on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference in 2015. This meeting will be of great significance against the backdrop of the United States, under President Trump, pulling out of the Paris accord. India and France have pledged to achieve reduction in emissions as committed at Paris.
- Mr Macron will also travel to PM Modi's constituency Varanasi. Both leaders will take a boat ride on the Ganga, and will later sit together over a private lunch. They will also visit Mirzapur to inaugurate a 100 MW solar power plant. President Macron and his wife will also visit the Taj Mahal
- The joint agreement made a fleeting reference to the Rafale deal On a day Mr Macron arrived in India, the Congress said there was new information to suggest that India was paying far more than countries like Qatar and Egypt for the 36 Rafale jets being acquired by the Indian Air Force. According to the Congress, "India is clearly paying an extra price of Rs. 350.90 crore per aircraft or Rs.12,632 crore for 36 aircraft." The BJP hit back, saying the Congress was "misleading the country over a sensitive issue like defence".
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