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PM to visit France; defence, nuclear talks top agenda

Last updated on: August 20, 2019 00:30 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a two-day state visit to France from August 22 during which he will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen strategic ties in key sectors such as defence, nuclear energy, maritime cooperation and counter-terrorism.

Ahead of the visit, officials here said progress on setting up the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is likely to be discussed during bilateral talks and India is committed to finalising the venture 'as soon as possible'.

From France, the prime minister will proceed for bilateral visits to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and will return to the French city of Biarritz on August 25 to attend the G7 Summit where India has been invited as a partner country.

 

Modi will arrive in France on Thursday evening and straightaway head for talks with Macron, who will also host a working dinner for the visiting leader.

The next day, he will meet French Prime Minister Edouard Charles Philippe, address an event of Indian community at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, and also inaugurate a memorial for Indian victims of two tragic air crashes of Air India flights in 1950 and 1966.

The discussions are expected to broadly focus on reaffirming France and India as the key strategic and like-minded partners, strengthening of defence partnership, including future defence acquisitions, progress on setting up of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, convergent, strategic and political priorities in the Indo-Pacific and related operational needs, Secretary (Economic Relations) T S Tirumurti said.

Strengthening bilateral engagement in key areas of strategic cooperation such as defence, nuclear energy, space, counter-terrorism, maritime security, cyber security, International Solar Alliance, and joint development projects will also be deliberated upon, he said at a media briefing.

The deliverables of the visit are expected to be in the sectors of skill development, space, information and technology and cyber.

Modi will on Friday arrive in the UAE where he would receive the 'Order of Zayed', the highest civil decoration of the country.

From the UAE, Modi will leave for Bahrain on August 24 on a two-day visit, which will be the first ever prime ministerial visit from India to the Gulf nation.
MoUs on RuPay cards will be signed by India with both the UAE and Bahrain so that they can be used in these two countries, Tirumurti said.

"Our relations with the Gulf countries are at an all time high and India enjoys excellent relations with the Islamic world," he said in response to a question.

During his visit to Bahrain, the prime minister will also launch the renovation of Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama. On August 25, he will head for the French city of Biarritz to attend the G7 Summit.

The next day, Prime Minister Modi will participate in sessions on environment, climate, oceans and digital transformation, Tirumurti said.

On the sidelines, the Prime Minister will have bilateral meetings with leaders of other G7 and partner countries.

The main theme of French presidency of G7 is combating inequality.

France has invited Australia, Chile, South Africa, India and from Africa --Rwanda, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Egypt -- as Biarritz partners.

Former Union minister Suresh Prabhu will be India's sherpa at the G7 Summit.

Asked if the progress on the Rafale deal and the controversies surrounding it will be discussed, a senior MEA official did not give a direct answer, saying defence cooperation would be "positively discussed" during the prime minister's visit.

India and France are strategic partners since 1998 and share a comprehensive, dynamic and multi-faceted relationship, the MEA said.

"Our two countries have strong cooperation in the fields of defence, maritime security, space, cyber, counter-terrorism, and civil nuclear energy along with robust trade and investment relations," it said.

The bilateral visit to France and the invitation to G7 Summit are in keeping with the tradition of strong and close partnership and high level political contacts between India and France, the ministry said.

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