PM Modi to receive French President in Varanasi tomorrow

French President Emmanuel Macron was greeted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Delhi

"We value these investments and would encourage France to associate with our flagship initiatives such as Make in India, Skill India and Digital India", it quoted him as saying. The new Joint Strategic Vision for the Indian Ocean sends the message that India is not limiting itself to the "Quadrilateral" arrangement with the U.S. and its allies Japan and Australia to develop interests in the "Indo-Pacific".

During a press briefing with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Macron said up to 50 contracts were expected to be signed during his four-day trip between Indian and French companies and several of these were aimed at fighting disruption caused by climate change.

The two sides have also arrived at a "Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region" to counter China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Among 14 agreements the two countries signed on Saturday after Macron's meeting with Modi was an agreement on the exchange and reciprocal protection of classified information.

In his statement, Modi said the strategic partnership between the two countries may be just 20 years old, but the cultural and spiritual partnership was even older. "The Indian Ocean, like the Pacific Ocean, can not become a place of hegemony", he said.

Technically, this agreement will facilitate the reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies and services between the armed forces of the two countries during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Sources said India's range of operations and ability to monitor hijacking, trafficking, smuggling and terrorism goes up by 100 per cent due to this pact.

"The two leaders will leave for Mirzapur, where they shall inaugurate a solar power plant, before returning to Varanasi", an official statement said here.

Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a news conference in New Delhi after signing the agreements, also committed to strengthening their partnership on defence and security. He also underlined the growing convergence between the two countries on regional and global issues. It would apparently also cover cost details of the Rafale jet deal on which the Modi government has been facing intense heat from the Congress party. Both leaders said they looked forward to continue their discussions to expand and deepen the ongoing Defence manufacturing partnerships.

Apart from issuing "India-France Joint Vision for Space Cooperation", the two countries also released the "Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region", with Macron maintaining that both the countries will have "unprecedented" level of cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean and Pacific.



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