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PM, Macron hold talks in Paris: Ukraine on agenda

Considering India’s time-tested friendship with Russia, consultations on Ukraine between President Macron and Mr Modi are seen as crucial

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on Wednesday evening (Indian time) met French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris “to set the tone of the next phase of the India-France Strategic Partnership”, with the French President warmly welcoming Mr Modi and placing a hand on his shoulder in a sign of the well-known bonhomie between the two leaders.

Mr Modi landed in Paris from Danish capital Copenhagen on the final leg of his whirlwind three-nation European tour and will be in the French capital for just a few hours before returning to New Delhi on Thursday. President Macron was recently re-elected as President and, besides congratulating him in person, Mr Modi will have several major issues to discuss with him, including the Ukraine war and India’s close defence ties with France.

 

“Landed in Paris. France is one of India’s strongest partners, with our nations cooperating in diverse areas”, Mr Modi tweeted earlier in the evening. Mr Modi had earlier said Sunday: “During my return journey, I will stop over in Paris to meet my friend, President Macron. President Macron has very recently been re-elected, and my visit just 10 days after the results will not only allow me to convey my personal congratulations in person, but also reaffirm the close friendship between the two countries. This will also give us the opportunity to set the tone of the next phase of the India-France Strategic Partnership. President Macron and I will share assessments on various regional and global issues and will take stock of ongoing bilateral cooperation. It is my firm belief that two countries that share such a similar vision and values for the global order must work in close cooperation with each other.”

 

“PM @narendramodi and President @EmmanuelMacron meet in Paris. This meeting will add momentum to the India-France friendship,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted along with a photograph of Mr Modi and Mr Macron hugging each other.

Mr Macron held a tete-a-tete with Mr Modi before the delegation-level talks at the Elysee Palace, the French President’s official residence. “A meeting between two friends. An opportunity to translate the renewed mandate of President @EmmanuelMacron into a renewed momentum for the India-France Strategic partnership,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

It may be recalled that President Macron has spoken several times to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war and had even travelled in person to Moscow a few weeks ago, but the peace mission had failed. Considering India’s time-tested friendship with Russia, consultations on Ukraine between President Macron and Mr Modi are seen as crucial.

 

On Tuesday, Mr Macron spoke again with Russian President Vladimir Putin and urged Moscow to rise to the level of its responsibility as a UN Security Council permanent member by ending this devastating war, an Elysee Palace statement said. Another focus area of the talks would be to unitedly deal with the challenges in the Indo-Pacific, amid China flexing muscles in the region.

Diplomatic sources said Mr Modi’s meeting with Mr Macron days after his election victory was highly symbolic. It sends a powerful signal that the two leaders want to make the Indo-French partnership a guiding principle of their foreign policy for the years to come, they said. It is also a demonstration of the level of personal chemistry between the two leaders, which gives impetus to our joint actions across all fields of cooperation, they said.

 

Mr Modi’s visit comes during the French presidency of the European Union, and also coincides with 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and France. This is Mr Modi’s fifth visit to France — after August 2019, June 2017, November 2015 and April 2015. Mr Macron had visited India in March 2018.

It may be noted that India also has a robust defence partnership with France that includes the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets recently. Whether India eventually places orders for more such aircraft remains to be seen, but according to French media reports, France may consider offering India four naval variants of the Rafale fighters that have already been in use in the French armed forces for deployment by the Indian Navy on its aircraft-carrier.

 


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