India, France sign 14 agreements; commit to strengthen strategic ties
The Dollar Business Bureau
Deepening the strategic ties between the two nations, India and France on Saturday signed 14 agreements in key areas of defence, nuclear energy, security, and protection of classified information besides resolving to deepen cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. The two countries also sealed business deals worth $16 billion.
The pacts were signed after extensive discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, who is on a state-visit to India from 10 to 12 March, 2018.
The 14 pacts include technical cooperation in the field of Railways, environment, education, urban development, renewable energy, defence and intelligence sharing. In addition, the two leaders signed a joint vision for space cooperation that paves the way for the two nations to embark on an astronaut programme.
The two leaders, in a joint statement, reaffirmed their commitment to furthering the strategic partnership between India and France and decided to take it to a new level by agreeing to hold biennial summits between the nations. They also agreed to deepen and strengthen the bilateral relations based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights.
Both leaders expressed satisfaction on scheduled progress in the implementation of acquisition related pacts, such as the Rafale aircraft agreement signed in 2016. They also noted the commissioning of INS Kalvari, the first Scorpene submarine made in India by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd, in collaboration with Naval Group, the French shipbuilder.
“Our defence cooperation is a very strong and we consider France among the most trusted defence partners,” Modi said.
“The agreement on reciprocal logistic support between the armed forces was a ‘golden step’ in defence relations,” he added.
Stating that defence cooperation between the two nations now has a ‘new significance’, French President talked about the fighter jet deal for the Air Force and the Scorpene submarine project for the Indian Navy.
“India had made a sovereign decision in this respect (Rafale fighter jet) and we are monitoring the progress in the field. We very much want to continue the programme. It is a long-term contract which is mutually beneficial. I personally consider it as the heart of the strategic partnership,” he said.
On maritime security, Macron said the two countries will have an ‘unprecedented’ level of cooperation in order to ensure stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
On Sunday, the two leaders also co-chaired the founding summit of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi. The ISA is a flagship initiative of India launched by PM Modi and French President on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit in 2015.
Modi and Macron held wide ranging talks and underlined the increasing convergence between the two nations on regional and global issues.
French President pledged more than $860 million for solar projects in developing nations and lauded efforts of India in making ISA a reality.