Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday welcomed the strengthening of ties between India and France in areas such as defence, space, counter-terrorism, maritime security and civil nuclear cooperation. He also conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims of the recent terror attack in Strasbourg and said that India stands with France in the fight against terrorism.
Modi made these remarks when French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian called on him.
Le Drian and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reviewed the status of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) project in Jaitapur in coastal Maharashtra. “We adopted an action plan to guide our work for the coming months so as to advance as efficiently as possible towards the final decision for building this power plant,” Le Drian said.
“Six EPRs account for a total capacity of almost 10 GW, which is a significant contribution to India’s aim of producing 40 per cent of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030, in keeping with its commitments made ahead of the Paris Climate Conference,” Le Drian said.
In March, India and France inked an agreement to expedite the Jaitapur project with the aim of commencing work at the site by year-end. The Indo-French nuclear agreement was signed in 2008 to build a nuclear plant in Jaitapur, nearly 600 km south of Mumbai. The plant will have six reactors with a capacity of 1,650 MW each.
Swaraj said the joint vision forms the basis of cooperation in the space sector and thanked France for supporting the launch of Arianespace rocket from French Guiana, a territory located along the northeastern coast of South America.
Noting that the foundation of India-France relations is based on “mutual trust”, Swaraj said the two countries are looking to strengthen their ties in various sectors.
“We had very fruitful talks. We closely looked at all the 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,” she told reporters.
“Our defence relations are historic and we have been involved in a number of exchanges in the form of training and joint exercises,” she said.
The external affairs minister also reiterated the resolve of the two countries to jointly fight terrorism. “We both are also working in strengthening our ties in space sector. We both are also leading the fight against climate change,” she said.
Le Drian said the discussion between the two leaders was “characterised as always by a great convergence of views and shared ambition”.
The French minister’s visit comes amid a massive controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace company Dassault Aviation. A senior MEA official said discussion over the Rafale deal did not figure in the talks between the two leaders.