PARIS: Paris has rolled out the red carpet and springtime chestnut blossoms to serenade India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, kindling hopes for flowering ties and fructifying deals in a host of areas, ranging from civil nuclear energy and defence to trade and investment.
It seems nothing can wrong on this beautiful and blessed day in Paris as the leaders of India and France get ready for full-spectrum talks and a boat ride on the sinuous Seine. Paris is determined to charm Mr Modi and honoured him with a majestic welcome at Elysee Palace. It’s business from the word go as the prime minister braced for two back-to-back round tables: one with French CEOs discussing infrastructure as a theme, and the second one will deal with defence technology, France’s forte.
Ahead of talks between Mr Modi and French President Francois Hollande, India has raised hopes and underlined that it expected “movement” on the setting up of French nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra as well as Rafale fighter deal, touted as the mother of all defence deals.
“India and France are strategic partners. In this context, the issues of civil nuclear and defence cooperation will be discussed. The issues you referred to will also be discussed. We expect movement on these issues,” Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry said in the French capital when asked whether the two leaders will talk about Jaitapur nuclear project and multi-billion dollar Rafale deal.
“There will be substantive discussions on defence and nuclear issues. Wait for the outcome,” he added.
Mr Modi began a three-day visit to France, the first leg of his three-nation visit, on April 9 which also includes Germany and Canada.
Besides strategic issues, Mr Modi’s trip to France has elements of soft diplomacy as well. The Indian leader will visit the UNESCO headquarters where he will launch a website on yoga. He will visit the World War-1 memorial and pay tribute to nearly 10,000 Indians who died while fighting alongside France.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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