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French Foreign Minister says India can always count on his country

At a time when the Modi government’s hyped pact with France on combat aircraft Rafale is mired in political row, the visiting French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian on Saturday said India knows that as a partner France has “never failed” it.

“It is not by chance that France and India are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their strategic partnership this year. It is because we attach the same importance to multilateralism, respect for the rule of law, the same ambition to usher in a just and sustainable world…..It is also because India knows that in France it has a partner that has never failed it,” the visiting Minister said after holding talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.

He also said New Delhi can ‘count’ Paris in the future too and that this “holds true on the strategic front”.

At the meeting, India and France agreed on deepening their strategic partnership through cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, civil nuclear, defence and security, space, trade and economic sectors.

At a joint press briefing after holding delegation level talks, Ms Swaraj said India and France have agreed to fight terrorism jointly. The Minister added that the two countries are working together in several areas including climate change. She said bilateral trade should be increased between the two sides.

Ms Swaraj thanked France for supporting India’s bid for a membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Meanwhile, in yet another major leap forward in bilateral ties, the Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC), the premier Research and Development organisation of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, inked a pact on Saturday with Atos, a global leader in digital transformation based in France, for designing, building and installing the BullSequana, its high-performance supercomputer in India.

This contract has been awarded to Atos under the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), a Rs 4,500 crore scheme. This pact seeks to create a network of over 70 high-performance supercomputing facilities for various academic and research institutions across India.

French Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said through culture, tourism and people-to-people ties, the two countries will forge strong links between their citizens.

He said the two leaders reviewed the status of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) project in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, and adopted an action plan to guide the roadmap work for the coming months.

Ms Swaraj said that India defence relation with France is “historical” and comprehensive while the French Minister said his country considers a “strong India to be in the world’s interest”.

Ms Swaraj said among other facets, issues like joint manufacturing and joint exercise also figured prominently.

In this endeavour, the Minister mentioned about Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to France in October. “Both sides are committed to give further boost to the ties,” she said.

“We closely looked at all aspects of our mutual ties. We are taking our cooperation forward in the Indo-Pacific region, which will not only benefit these two countries but also other countries in the region,” the External Affairs Minister said.

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