India and France were exploring possibilities for co-development and co-production of key military platforms for export to friendly countries and stepping up cooperation in space-based maritime awareness, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday as he held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two leaders held tete-a-tete and delegation-level talks in the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the President of the French Republic, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement. They held extensive discussions on a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation including defence and security, civil nuclear, science and technology, energy, trade and investment, space, climate action and people-to-people ties, it said.
Speaking at a joint press event with Macron, Modi, who is here on a two-day official visit, said a roadmap to strengthen India-France strategic ties over the next 25 years was being prepared with bold and ambitious goals on the anvil. Modi said that Indian Oil and Total company of France have reached a long-term agreement on the import of LNG. “This will strengthen our goals of transitioning towards clean energy,” he said.
The two sides also announced major cooperation in the space sector by inking the implementing agreement for a joint earth observation satellite – Trishna – to monitor temperatures on earth and oceans and study climate change. The two countries also announced plans for joint developments in the field of launchers, while NewSpace India Limited and Arianespace signed a letter of intent to collaborate on commercial launch services.
The two sides released a Horizon 2047 Roadmap to set the course for the bilateral relationship up to 2047. Prime Minister Modi also announced that an agreement has been reached to launch India’s Unified Payments Interface in France, the first European country to do so.
Modi also spoke about plans by French companies for developing helicopter engines, production of spare parts and setting up of MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facilities in India. The defence ministry on Thursday approved proposals to purchase 26 Naval variants of Rafale jets from France and procure three French-designed Scorpene class submarines.
“Defence cooperation has been a strong pillar of our close relationship. It is a symbol of deep mutual trust between the two countries. France is an important partner in ’Make in India’ and Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative,” Modi said.
“Today we will discuss co-development and co-production related to new technologies,” he said. Modi said both sides can produce military platforms for friendly third countries as well.
“There is scope for expanding cooperation among the defence space agencies. We are moving forward towards setting up MRO facilities, production of spare parts and development of helicopter engines by French companies in India. We will focus on strengthening our cooperation on this,” he said.
Modi also said India and France will take forward the relationship in the civil nuclear sector and discuss the possibilities for cooperation in the field of small and advanced modular reactors.
He said India and France have been together in the war against terror. “We believe strong action needs to be taken to end cross-border terrorism and both nations agree to take further steps in this direction,” Modi said.
During their talks, the two leaders also discussed India’s G20 Presidency, Indo-Pacific, and regional and global issues of mutual interest, the MEA statement said. The prime minister during the joint press event said that India and France have a special responsibility to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, a region which is witnessing China’s aggressive posturing.
“As resident powers of the Indo-Pacific, India and France have special responsibility for peace and stability in the region,” he said.
Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have impacted the whole world, Modi said the countries of the Global South have been particularly impacted negatively.
“This is a matter of concern. To find solutions to such problems, it is important for countries to make efforts unitedly. We believe that all disputes can be resolved only through dialogue and diplomacy. India is willing to contribute to lasting peace,” the prime minister said.
Ambitious outcome documents, including ”Horizon 2047: Charting the future of India-France Strategic Partnership”, were adopted during their talks, the MEA statement said.
Prime Minister conveyed that he looks forward to welcoming President Macron in New Delhi for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September 2023, it said. Modi and Macron also addressed the CEOs Forum where the Prime Minister urged French businessmen to tap opportunities in India.
He also announced that India would open a new Consulate in the port town of Marseilles.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)