Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian meets his Indian counterpart

Statement by the Deputy Spokesperson of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Paris, 18 June 2018

Jean-Yves Le Drian received his Indian counterpart, Smt Sushma Swaraj, on 18th June 2018.

Coming three months after the State visit to India of the President of the French Republic, from 9th to 12th March 2018, the meeting aimed to progress on the implementation of the goals set during this visit, twenty years after the conclusion of the strategic partnership between France and India. These discussions particularly focused on the implementation of the joint vision on cooperation in the Indian Ocean, adopted in March 2018, as well as the importance we attach to respecting the principles of international law on the freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific for the benefit of the entire region.

On this occasion, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian and Smt Sushma Swaraj discussed major international issues, including the Vienna Agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and counter-terrorism challenges. They particularly reviewed the operational implementation of the International Solar Alliance, whose founding summit was co-chaired by the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of India on 11th March 2018, as well as the drawing up of a Global Pact for the Environment.

With regard to economic matters, our priority is to boost bilateral trade (9 bn euros in 2017) and strengthen France’s economic presence in India, especially in the sustainable urban development and energy sectors. The development of people-to-people contacts (students, tourists, researchers) and cultural cooperation (especially for books and cinema) also form part of our bilateral priorities.

Statement to the media by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, on the occasion of the visit to Paris of Smt Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India (Paris, 18 June 2018)

Hon’ble Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish to express how very delighted I am to welcome my Indian counterpart, Smt Sushma Swaraj, in Paris. This, Madame, is your maiden visit to France since you first assumed office in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. My visit to New Delhi in November last year had already given us the opportunity to exchange views; we have just discussed together major issues for both our countries with regard to our bilateral relations as well as current international matters, and we will pursue these discussions over dinner.

As did the President of the French Republic earlier this year in March during his State visit in India, I would like to recall first of all the excellent quality and vitality of our strategic partnership. This year we are celebrating 20 years of this partnership; 20 years is the age at which maturity is affirmed, and we must continue fostering its development. India is one of our foremost partners in Asia, and reciprocally, I am convinced, Hon’ble Minister, that France has the vocation of becoming India’s top strategic partner in Europe.

Our relations are already substantial and rich, as illustrated by the commitments made in March 2018. I would like to especially mention our cooperation in the Indian Ocean, whose value can be gauged in terms of the increasing importance that France intends to accord to the Indo-Pacific region.

We could also mention our cooperation in the field of space, which is a good example of our technological power and our capacity to innovate together.

Smt Swaraj and I have also discussed our civil nuclear cooperation; an important phase was crossed last March when President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundations of an industrial agreement aimed at setting up 6 EPRs by EDF in Jaitapur. We must now give ourselves the means to conclude the negotiations in the coming months, and, if possible, by the end of this year.

Our partnership is also a peoples’ partnership, a “partnership of hearts”. President Macron and Prime Minister Modi recalled this during their last meeting: when we encourage mobility, exchanges of students, academics and tourists, when we organise the shoots of Indian films in France and the distribution of French films in India, when we support language learning, we weave strong ties between our two peoples, ties geared to the future and based on enhancing mutual knowledge.

That is the very significance of the inauguration of the Indian cultural centre during your visit, Hon’ble Minister. It will contribute to better awareness of the rich and fascinating culture of your country in France. I am also delighted that your presence in Paris today will also be an opportunity to open prospects for developing cooperation between the Bhimbhetka and Lascaux caves, which bear moving testimony of the first human pictorial expressions.

To plan for the near future and the long term in the very crucial areas of climate change and the environment, we have also made common commitments. I am particularly thinking of a joint initiative launched three years ago, which has aroused the interest of an increasing number of States and private investors: the International Solar Alliance. We co-chaired at one point its founding summit, which took place on 11th March 2018. Our priority now is to implement the road map announced at the summit.

Our cooperation for the planet also takes place through our economic partnership, because it offers concrete solutions to the challenges of today’s world, and I am keen on amplifying it.

French companies already have a strong presence in India in the sectors of the future: Smart Cities, eco-mobility, waste management, carbon-neutral fuels. I would like our bilateral trade, which almost touched the 9-billion-USD mark in 2017, to continue growing.

This evening we will continue our discussions. We will review major international issues; we will discuss in particular the importance we attach to maintaining the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA) as long as Iran continues to comply with its obligations.

We will also exchange views on the recent developments in the Korean peninsula and the step of the meeting between the President of the United States and the leader of North Korea, which we consider to be significant but which requires confirmation through concrete developments in terms of dismantling military nuclear installations and capabilities.

As you know, France intends to work towards reforming an effective multilateralism. It intends to do so as part of a Europe both strong and open to the world. India forms part of the countries with which we wish to hold in-depth discussions and cooperate for the realisation of a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific area.

I firmly believe, Hon’ble Minister, that your visit to Paris today will enable us to move forward on this path of strengthened cooperation.

Thank you for your visit./.

Last modified on 04/07/2018

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