NEW DELHI:Deep blue waters and the power of the sun are likely to dominate the discussions between French President Emmanuel Macron — who arrives on his first-ever visit to India Friday evening — and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Apart from maritime security and solar energy, other issues on the agenda for talks between Macron and Modi are nuclear cooperation, terrorism, trade and ways to ramp up the 20-year-old strategic relationship.
France considers Mayotte (population around 2,27,000) and Reunion (population around 8,40,000) in the southwest quadrant of the Indian Ocean as “overseas departments” which operate as “interlocking military stations”, along with military facilities and presence in Djibouti and Abu Dhabi.
The two islands also give France an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 10 million sq km in the Indian Ocean.If India and France were to agree even on ‘logistical access’ to each other’s bases in the Indian Ocean, it would be a shot in the arm for New Delhi, which has recently seen the Maldives being wooed away by China.
After the official reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan and delegation level talks on Saturday, Macron and Modi will attend a meeting of CEOs from both nations. Over 50 CEOs from France, mostly from defence sector, but also from firms dealing with agriculture, energy and education are accompanying the French President.
In the evening, he will attend a state banquet hosted in his honour, which will be also be attended by 23 heads of government and state who will be in Delhi for the launch of the International Solar Alliance.
Delegates from over 125 nations and institutions will be attending the launch of the initiative proposed by Modi during his visit to France in June 2017.On Monday, Macron will inaugurate a solar power plant at Dadar Kala village in Mirzapur, UP. He will also take a boat ride on in Varanasi with Modi.