NEW DELHI: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and handed over to him President Francois Hollande’s invite to visit Paris.
“Foreign Minister of France Laurent Fabius called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and invited him to visit France. Both sides reiterated their commitment to further strengthen and expand the bilateral relationship,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said. During a meeting in South Block here, both countries reiterated their commitment to take forward the bilateral ties in defence, trade and nuclear energy.
Fabius met his counterpart Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday, when he had pushed for the Indian Air Force’s deal to buy 126 Rafale combat planes, which has been in the works for two years now but is yet to be signed.
While welcoming the French Minister, Modi said he on Monday got an opportunity to witness the launch of the French satellite, SPOT-7, which was placed in the orbit by the ISRO’s PSLV C-23 from Sriharikota.
Recalling the strategic and friendly ties between the two countries, the Prime Minister sought French cooperation in the field of urban planning and heritage conservation.
Observing that France had provided technical support for the Ahmedabad Heritage Project, Modi said India planned to build heritage cities and 100 new smart cities. France has the expertise to help the country in this regard, he added.
The Prime Minister also sought French cooperation in tourism, skill development and low-cost defence manufacturing, the PMO statement said. Fabius said France was keen to expand the cooperation and the relationship following the assumption of office by the new Government in India.
He discussed the student exchange programme and further deepening of the technological cooperation between the two countries.
The issue of terrorism also figured in the talks attended by Sushma Swaraj, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, Indian ambassador to France Arun Singh and French ambassador to India Francois Richier, among others.
Fabius described the meeting as “warm”, and said he had “positive” talks on the issues of urban planning, tourism and low-cost defence manufacturing.
“The next step is for the French firm Dassault and for the Indian government to discuss the details which have not yet been discussed and hopefully reach a conclusion... for us, the earlier the better,” he told journalists after meeting Modi.