French president in India

Rafale, Terrorism, Solar Alliance on the Agenda

Business & Politics

News - Biz@India

January 24, 2016

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Focusing on the visit of French president Francois Hollande in India, French ambassador to India, Francois Richier, at his residence in New Delhi briefed about the key agendas such as terrorism and Rafale deal.

Rafale deal, International Solar Alliance and terrorism are some of the buzzwords associated with the French president François Hollande’s visit to India, from January 24-26, on the occasion of the Republic Day as the guest of honour. A threat letter against President Hollande, allegedly from ISIS, at the French Consulate in Bengaluru triggered an added sensation to this. While French ambassador to India, Francois Richier, during the press briefing at French embassy in New Delhi on January 22 confirmed the threat, he said, “We are not sure if it’s a real threat or a hype created to grab media attention.”

However, he confirmed that terrorism would be the top agenda of discussion when Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet on January 25, a day after his arrival in Chandigarh. About Rafale deal that also dominated the thoughts of the media present at the embassy, the ambassador refused to comment as it was for the ministry of defence to comment and said, “Its not that I don’t want to, but I don’t know.” But he established that negotiations between the two government are at advanced stage and concrete steps and announcements would be made during Hollande’s visit. Notably, Modi announced India’s decision to buy 36 Rafale jets from France during his visit to Paris last April. The Rafale deal that had been pending for almost three years, the governments say it has made progression and reached important steps eversince the announcement by Modi.

Following up with the Paris climate meet, International Solar Alliance (ISA) would be another key agenda of discussion between the two leaders. “While ISA is an initiative of India, launched during COP21, it has now become a joint cooperation and soon it will become an international cooperation,” said Richier, confirming that France will make financial commitment towards the campaign during Hollande’s visit. A spokesperson from ministry of external affairs also said that this would be taken forward through the inauguration of Inter-racial Solar Alliance Secretariat at the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gurgaon, Haryana.”

Also important in the programme is France’s interest in the Smart City projects that marks the beginning of the President’s visit that starts with Chandigarh that was primarily designed by the French architect and urban planner Le Corbusier in the 1950s. “Chandigarh was the smart city of the 1950s and now we plan on making it the smart city of the 21st century,” said Richier, adding that cities like Puducherry and Nagpur are also in the list. Important MoU’s between the French and Indian industries would be signed during this leg of the visit. Nearly 43 companies from France would be present during this event.

One of the symbolic gestures of this strengthening relationship would however be visible during the customary parade of the Indian Republic Day on January 26 where 130 soldiers from the French 35th Infantry Regiment would march alongside the Indian Armed Forces. First time in the history of India!

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