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Thank you France, says Modi as he takes flight to Germany

April 12, 2015 14:58 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday thanked France and wrapped up his first visit to Paris that saw the two nations elevate their strategic ties to a new level as they agreed on a deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and decided to move ahead with the log-jammed Jaitapur nuclear project.

"Thank you France! Substantial ground was covered during my visit. Thankful to French Govt & people. Will always cherish the enthusiasm," Modi tweeted in both English and French while leaving Paris for Germany.

With 'Make-in-India' being the theme, the two sides signed about 20 pacts, covering areas like civil nuclear energy, urban development, railways and space.

During the three-day stay in Paris, France pledged 2 billion Euros for sustainable development in India as the Prime Minister invited investments and technology from this country.

Modi also visited the the manufacturing facility of aircraft manufacturer Airbus which announced its decision to enhance outsourcing in India from 400 million Euros to 2 billion Euros over the next five years.

It also expressed keen interest in manufacturing in India by participating in the 'Make-in-India' programme.

Modi and Hollande, who held detailed discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral relations, pledged to push two-day investments and trade.

Image: Prime Minister Modi with President Francois Hollande of France in Paris. Photograph: MEA

After his talks with Hollande, the prime minister said he was confident that the strategic partnership will go to a new height.

The Indian decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-way condition "as quickly as possible" marks bypassing of the log-jammed deal for supply of 126 aircraft.

For this, an inter-governmental agreement will be signed under "separate terms and conditions" which will be discussed by officials.

"The two leaders agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than that conveyed as part of a separate process underway," a Joint Statement said.

"The delivery would be in time-frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of IAF and the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France," it added.

France was the first destination of Modi's three-nation tour that will take him to Germany and Canada as well.

The Prime Minister left Paris for Hannover where India is a partner country in its international fair.

Earlier, addressing a congregation of NRIs in Paris, Modi said India had made lot of sacrifices for world peace since World War I and even after the UN was founded.

Image: Prime Minister Modi with cultural performers at the Indian Community reception at Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. Photograph: M Asokan/Photo Division

It has been the largest contributor to the peacekeeping forces across the world, he said.

"Still, India continues to yearn for a (permanent) seat in the UN Security Council. I urge the world, it is time to respect the peacekeeping efforts. It is the right of the sentiments of Mahatma Gandhi and Gautam Buddha. Those days are gone when India had to beg. Now our nation wants its right," he told the gathering of about 3,000 Indians amid chants of "Modi, Modi".

"There is hardly any other country which has such moral authority as the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha. I hope that when the United Nations celebrates its 70th anniversary (this year), it will especially think about this," the Prime Minister said.

India has been pitching for a permanent seat in the expanded membership of the UNSC, arguing that the existing body does not truly reflect the contemporary world realities.

To buttress his point, Modi referred to his visit earlier in the day to a war memorial in Lille region of France set up as a tribute to about 10,000 Indians who got martyred while fighting alongside France in World War I.

Modi said he wanted to send out a message to the world to realise that Indians have been ready to sacrifice their lives for peace since as long as one century.

"I want the world to know that 14 lakh Indians put their lives at risk by participating in the World War I...Who were they fighting for? Not for India or expansion of India

Thousands of years of India's history is testimony to the fact that it has never indulged in aggression," Modi said.

"Indian soldiers fought shoulder-to-shoulder with France...They fought for somebody else," he added.

Image: Prime Minister Modi pays homage to the Indian soldiers at Neuve Chapelle Memorial in France. Photograph: Photo Division

"Sometimes, history is forgotten. Those who forget history will lose their right to write one," he said, adding that, "India is known for its sacrifices... One can fight for oneself, but to die for others is different."

India along with Brazil, Germany and Japan have formed the G4 grouping to press for speedy UNSC reforms and their inclusion in the powerful organ of the world body.

Modi asserted that on the basis of experience of 10 months as Prime Minister, he could say that "there is no reason why India should remain poor."

He said that all the international agencies like World Bank, IMF are saying India is the fastest growing economy.

"Even Moody's is also saying that India's growth prospect are right," Modi said.

Image: Modi being greeted by Indian community on his way to Neuve Chapelle Memorial in Lille, France. Photograph: Photo Division

Rating agency Moody's last week raised India's credit outlook to 'positive', while Fitch projected faster growth -- raising hopes for an upgrade in its sovereign rating in the next 12-18 months.

Modi said the "hopes and expectations" with which BJP has been voted to power will be fulfilled.

Highlighting his 'Make in India' initiative, he said the country was aiming to reach new heights and his government was determined to ensure robust growth.

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