India, France to discuss counter terrorism mechanism

New Delhi, Jan. 21 (ANI): In the wake of horrendous attack in Paris and the recent terrorist attack at the Pathankot air base, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday the cooperation between France and India on matters related to counter terrorism has acquired a very significant dimension, and added that a lot of discussion in this regard is expected during the visit of French President François Hollande.

President Hollande will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year. This is the fifth time that a serving President of the French Republic will be the chief guest at the Republic Day function.

“In a very first of its kind, French troops will march alongside Indian troops on January 26 on Rajpath. There has been no occasion in the past when foreign troops have participated in the march past on the Rajpath during a Republic Day celebrations, but you would also recall that Indian troops had participated in the Bastille Day celebrations in France in 2009,” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

On July 14, 2009, the Indian troops from the three services – army, navy and air force – marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris along with the French Army on the Bastille Day. The event also witnessed participation of the Maratha light infantry, which is one of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army.

Divulging detail of the bilateral relationship with France, Swarup said, “Our bilateral relationship is very comprehensive, which covers a number of sectors such as defence, civil nuclear cooperation, railways smart cities, science and research and space and culture. In all these areas, we expect some forward progress during the French President’s visit.”

Swarup also highlighted the business ties between both nations.

“We have strong ties with the bilateral trade around eight billion dollars, of which five billion dollars are India’s export to France,” he said.

“This visit will include a CEOs forum interaction in Chandigarh as well as an India-France Business Summit at which we expect a number of B-to-B agreements to be signed in the presence of the two leaders – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Hollande,” he said.

Swarup further said France is also a ‘Green Superpower’ and has successfully concluded the Cop 21 negotiations in Paris.

“The French leadership is extremely appreciative of the fact that India contributed meaningfully to the successful Paris Agreement on Climate Change for the discussions during the French President’s forthcoming visit to lay concrete cooperation in this area between the two countries,” he said.

Taking about the International Solar Alliance, an initiative by Prime Minister Modi, which was launched in Paris on November 30, 20015, jointly by him and the French President, Swarup said: “This will now be taken forward with the Prime Minister and the French President inaugurating the Interracial Solar Alliance Secretariat at the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gurgaon, Haryana.”

Relations between India and France are multi-faceted, close and special.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a successful official visit to France during April 9-12, 2015. Apart from being Prime Minister Modi’s first bilateral visit in Europe, this was also the first full bilateral visit to France in nine years. (ANI)

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