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Aero India 2023

PM Modi, President Macron vow to expand India-France defence ties


Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron during a lunch meeting on the sidelines of G20 Summit in New Delhi on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (PTI Photo via @narendramodi)

NEW DELHI (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday vowed to strengthen Indo-French defence ties through partnerships in design, development and manufacture of advanced defence platforms including for third countries in the Indo-Pacific.

In their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Modi and Macron also called for early finalisation of the proposed defence industrial roadmap.

A joint statement on the Modi-Macron talks said they acknowledged "good progress" in discussions for the Jaitapur nuclear project and welcomed engagement of both sides to expand cooperation to establish a partnership for co-developing SMR (small modular reactors) and AMR (advanced modular reactors) technologies as well as the forthcoming firming up of a "dedicated declaration" of intent.

At a media briefing, Macron, referring to India-French strategic partnership, said the relationship is much more than bilateral engagement and that the two countries have to work toward resisting the "fragmentation" of the world.

Describing India-France ties as "very strong", Macron, without giving specific details, said additional contracts and procurements will follow in months and years to come.

"French people were very proud and they felt the friendship and respect for your country," he said.

As G20 president, India did its best to send across a message of unity and peace to the world while Russia was still waging its aggression against Ukraine, Macron said.

The statement said both leaders reiterated their commitment to strengthen the defence cooperation through partnership in design, development, testing and manufacture of advanced defence technologies and platforms, and expand production in India, including for third countries in the Indo-Pacific.

"In this context, they also called for early finalisation of the defence industrial roadmap," it said.

The two leaders discussed overall progress and next steps on the implementation of the new and ambitious goals for cooperation in areas of defence, space, nuclear energy, digital public infrastructure, critical technology, climate change, education, and people-to-people contacts, it added.

"They also carried forward their discussions on India-France partnership in the Indo Pacific region and Africa, including in infrastructure, connectivity, energy, biodiversity, sustainability and industrial projects," the statement said.

At the media briefing, Macron did not reply to a question on when a deal on India's procurement of 26 Rafale-M fighter jets for the Indian Navy will be firmed up.

In July, India approved proposals to purchase the naval variant of Rafale jets from France and procure three French-designed Scorpene class submarines.

The joint statement said the two leaders also discussed, assessed and reviewed the progress in bilateral relations since their last meeting in July in Paris. PM Modi had graced the Bastille Day parade on July 14 as the guest of honour.

The statement also referred to acknowledgement by the two leaders to the "strength of India-France partnership, founded in deep trust, shared values, belief in sovereignty and strategic autonomy, a resolute commitment to international law and principles enshrined in the UN Charter".

It said Modi and Macron emphasised the need to expand India-France collaboration to address regional and global challenges.

"They reiterated their unwavering commitment to collectively serve as a force of good, carrying the message of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' that is 'one earth, one family, one future', during tumultuous times reshaping the global order," it said.

Macron congratulated Modi on India's success of mission Chandrayaan 3.

The two leaders recalled six decades of India-France Space cooperation and reviewed the progress since holding of the first strategic space dialogue in June 2023.

Modi and Macron also emphasised the need to expand Indo-French collaboration to address regional and global challenges.

"They reiterated their unwavering commitment to collectively serve as a force of good, carrying the message of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' that is 'one earth, one family, one future', during tumultuous times reshaping the global order," the statement said.

"Laying emphasis on areas such as digital, science, technological innovation, education, culture, health and environment cooperation, both leaders called for strengthening of institutional linkages in these domains, on the model of the Indo-French Campus for the Indo-Pacific," it said.

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