Minister praises "excellence and vitality" of India partnership
Foreign policy – India/partnership – Statement to the press by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, on the occasion of the visit to Paris by Ms Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India
Paris, 18 June 2018
I’d like to say how delighted I am to welcome my Indian counterpart, Ms Swaraj, to Paris. This is your first visit to France since you took up your post in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. My visit to New Delhi in November has already given us the opportunity to talk; we’ve just discussed issues of huge importance to our two countries, relating to our bilateral relationship and international current events, and we’re going to continue our discussions over dinner.
I’d like to begin by recalling – as did the French President in March during his state visit to India – the excellence and vitality of our strategic partnership. We’re celebrating 20 years of the partnership this year; 20 years – it’s a coming of age, we must go on encouraging its development. India is one of our foremost partners in Asia, and likewise I’m convinced that France is set to become India’s leading strategic partner in Europe.
We already have a substantial, rich relationship, as illustrated by the commitments made in March. Let me specifically mention our cooperation in the Indian Ocean, the value of which is measured in terms of the growing importance France intends to attach to the Indo-Pacific region.
We could also talk about our space cooperation, which is a good example of our technological power and our capacity to innovate together.
Ms Swaraj and I also discussed our civil nuclear cooperation; a milestone was reached in March when the French President and Prime Minister Modi laid the foundations for an industrial agreement aimed at the deployment by EDF of six EPRs in Jaitapur.
We now have to give ourselves the means to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion in the next few months, and if possible, by the end of the year.
Our partnership is also a human partnership, a “partnership of hearts.” As the French President and Prime Minister Modi recalled during their last meeting, when we promote mobility and exchanges between students and in academia and tourism, when we organize the hosting of Indian film shoots in France and the screening of French films in India, when we support language learning, we forge a strong relationship between our two peoples, a relationship geared to the future and based on a deeper knowledge of each other.
That’s the whole purpose of the inauguration of the Indian Cultural Centre during your visit, Minister. It will help make your country’s rich and fascinating culture better known in France. I’m delighted too that your presence in Paris today also provides a chance to create prospects for developing cooperation between the caves of Bhimbetka and Lascaux, which contain the touching testimonies of humans’ first pictorial expressions.
To project ourselves to the near and long-term future in areas as crucial as climate and the environment, we’ve also made shared commitments. I’m thinking in particular of a joint initiative launched three years ago, which more and more states and private investors are interested in: the International Solar Alliance. The founding summit was held on 11 March 2018; at one point we both co-chaired it. Our priority is now to implement the road map announced then.
Our cooperation for the planet also takes place through our economic partnership, because it offers concrete solutions to the challenges of today’s world; I’m keen to broaden this.
French businesses already have a strong presence in India in sectors ofthe future: smart cities, ecomobility, waste management and zero-carbon energy. I’d like our economic exchanges, which amounted to nearly €9 billion in 2017, to continue increasing.
This evening we’re going to continue our discussions. We’ll review the major international issues; we’ll discuss in particular our commitment to maintaining the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, provided Iran continues to comply with its obligations.
We’ll also talk about recent developments in the Korean Peninsula and the step represented by the meeting between the United States President and the North Korean leader, which in our eyes is significant but needs to be confirmed by concrete developments, in terms of the dismantling of military nuclear facilities and capabilities.
France, as you know, intends to work to rebuild an effective multilateralism. It intends to do so in the framework of a Europe that is both strong and outward-looking. India is one of the countries with which we’d like to have in-depth exchanges and cooperate to bring about a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
I’m convinced that your visit to Paris today, Minister, will enable us to make progress on this path of enhanced cooperation.
Thank you for your visit./.