France is keen to become India’s top strategic partner in Europe and wants to strengthen the country’s economic presence in India, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said. Drian met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here yesterday and the two leaders held in-depth and constructive discussions on full range of bilateral relationship including cooperation in the civil nuclear sector. “India is one of our foremost partners in Asia, and reciprocally, I am convinced that France has the vocation of becoming India’s top strategic partner in Europe,” he said in a statement.
“I would like to recall first of all the excellent quality and vitality of our strategic partnership. This year we are celebrating 20 years of this partnership; 20 years is the age at which maturity is affirmed, and we must continue fostering its development,” he said. India and France are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Strategic Partnership.
“Our relations are already substantial and rich, as illustrated by the commitments made in March. “I would like to especially mention our cooperation in the Indian Ocean, whose value can be gauged in terms of the increasing importance that France intends to accord to the Indo-Pacific region,” Drian said.
The Minister said that he could also mention France’s cooperation in the field of space, which is a good example of the technological power and the capacity to innovate together. Drian said that he discussed with Swaraj the civil nuclear cooperation between India and France.
An important phase was crossed last March when President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundations of an industrial agreement aimed at setting up six European Pressurised Water nuclear reactors (EPR)s by French energy giant EDF (Electricite de France) in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, he said.
“We must now give ourselves the means to conclude the negotiations in the coming months, and, if possible, by the end of this year,” Drian said. “Our partnership is also a peoples’ partnership, a ‘partnership of hearts’. “When we encourage mobility, exchanges of students, academics and tourists, when we organise the shoots of Indian films in France and the distribution of French films in India, when we support language learning, we weave strong ties between our two peoples, ties geared to the future and based on enhancing mutual knowledge,” the minister said.
Drian said that he would like the India-France bilateral trade, which almost touched the 9-billion-USD mark in 2017, to continue growing. The two leaders also discussed the Iran nuclear agreement and the denuclearisaton of the Korean Peninsula.