New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to hold bilateral talks with French President Emmanuel Macron during his two-day state visit to France from August 22 with an aim to strengthen cooperation in the fields of defence, maritime security, counter-terrorism, and civil nuclear energy along with robust trade and investment relations.
The prime minister will arrive in France on Thursday evening and will straightaway head to talks with Macron, who will also host a special dinner for Modi at the Chateau de Chantilly, a 19th-century site located in Oise, 60 km from Paris. During his visit to France, the prime minister is also scheduled to address the Indian community in Paris and also inaugurate the Memorial for the Indian victims of the Air India crashes at Nid D'Aigle.
"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 of External Affairs said in a statement. Informed sources have told ANI that significant talks on climate change, financing, and collaboration for green technologies, specific roadmap and open partnership in new areas like digital and cyberspace, and skill development will be the key thrust of the visit and agreements in this regard will be inked.
Agreements on collaboration in science and technology are also expected. However, no agreement on defence cooperation is on the cards. Discussion on future roadmap vis-a-vis defence collaboration is expected, sources said. The issue of Jaitapur nuclear reactors may also come up during the prime minister's visit. Informed sources said the talks on the cost-effectiveness of reactors are moving in the right direction and there is no roadblock. There will also be discussions on regional issues like Iran, the peace process in Afghanistan and terror financing, they said.
Interestingly, Modi is visiting France ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meet in Paris. The Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog, also known by its French name -- Groupe d'action financiere -- is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G-7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001, its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing Informed sources say that any action on Pakistan on terror financing will be considered only after seeing the report submitted by Pakistan.
When asked whether India-Pakistan tension post abrogation of Article 370 will come up in during Modi's visit to France, informed sources told ANI that French position is clear that it is a bilateral issue. Speaking about recently concluded UNSC meet on Kashmir where France reportedly favoured Indian position, informed sources said: "France is not just a partner of India but it is a friend in need." A very comprehensive and significant joint statement will also be issued. Indian and French leadership will also exchange notes on their respective positions on G-7.
From France, the prime minister will leave for a bilateral visit to UAE and Bahrain and will return to Biarritz city in France to attend the G7 summit wherein he will focus on how India has been approaching issues of climate change and biodiversity, and also showcase how it has used technology to boost inclusive development. On the sidelines, the prime minister will be having bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries.
Modi will on Friday arrive in the UAE he where will receive the Order of Zayed, the UAE's highest civilian honour that was conferred on him in April for boosting bilateral ties. Meanwhile, his visit to Bahrain will mark the first by any Indian prime minister to the country. Modi will meet Bahrain Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Ali Khalifa and discuss bilateral and international issues.