France, India commit to increasing trade to 15 bn euros by 2020

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Paris, June 19 (IANS) The dynamism infused in the Indo-French relations during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India in March seems to be building up as the two countries have committed to raising their bilateral trade from 9 billion euros to 15 billion euros in the next two years official sources said.

Besides this, boosting French investment in India was one of the several issues that Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed with her French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian on Monday evening during her maiden visit to France.

The French have been keen to significantly enhance their presence in Indian business ecosystem, especially in areas where they have inhouse strengths, notably sustainable development, transport and smart cities.

The two ministers also discussed numerous international issues such as the impact of the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Treaty as well as the Iran nuclear deal. Regional issues such as terrorism and situation in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region were also discussed.

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Sushma Swaraj thanked Le Drian on behalf of the Indian government for the unstinted support that France has given to India’s bid to be inducted as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

According to a statement issued by the Indian External Affairs Ministry, Sushma Swaraj and Le Drian reviewed the wide gamut of bilateral relations as well as exchanged views on contemporary matters of regional/international interest.

“The two ministers reaffirmed the strong mutual ties and the expanding convergences which underpin the bilateral Strategic Partnership, now in its 20th year,” the statement said.

The two leaders also exchanged a letter of intent for collaboration in conservation of prehistoric monuments. This document which was signed between the Ministry of Culture of India and the Ministry of Culture of France will aid conservation efforts at the Bhimbetka caves in India and the caves of Lascaux and Chauvet in France.

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Sushma Swaraj also called on President Macron on Monday evening and conveyed the personal greetings of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Minister Narendra Modi.

As part of her engagements here on Monday, Sushma Swaraj was also the chief guest at a ceremony held to name the Indian Culture Centre in the memory of Swami Vivekanand.

According to the ministry statement, Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday visited the India House, Maison de l’Inde, which is a hostel for Indian students in the University City of Paris. She addressed the residents of The India House, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year

An Indian community reception was held in honour of the visiting minister at the Indian Embassy where she addressed the members of community and emphasised on the importance attached by India on the links with the Indian diaspora.

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Sushma Swaraj also handed over certificates of appreciation to Indian community organisations and individuals who have contributed to the Swacch Bharat Kosh.

She also announced that India will construct an Indian Armed Forces Memorial in Villiers Guislain, France, to honour the valour and sacrifice of the thousands of Indian soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought in World War I.

She also released a publication “States of India” prepared by the Indian Embassy which is meant for increasing awareness of the business climate and invest potential of various states of India and would prove to be a handy guide for French investors, chamber of commerce and others.

Sushma Swaraj arrived here from Italy on Monday on the second leg of her week-long four-nation tour of Europe which will also see her visiting Luxembourg and Belgium.

(Ranvir Nayar is managing director of the Media India Group. He can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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