External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left Paris on Tuesday afternoon after a successful completion to her maiden visit to France in her current role.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj credited the special chemistry between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron for the new dynamism in the Indo-French relationship.
“India and France are in a new phase of their relationship. I can see a new energy between the two countries. This is due to the special chemistry that our Prime Minister Modi and French President Macron enjoy. This chemistry was very much visible during the visit of President Macron to India and it allowed us to sign a number of important agreements that will take our bilateral relationship to a new level,” Swaraj said while addressing a large gathering of Indian diaspora living in France, organised at the Indian Embassy in Paris.
Swaraj reached Paris on Monday afternoon for a whirlwind 24-hour visit to the French capital, incidentally, this is her first visit to France since taking charge as the External Affairs Minister of India in May 2014.
She called on Macron yesterday at the Palais Elysees and later held discussions with the diplomatic adviser to the French President. She also had long discussions with her French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian at the Quai d’Orsay, the offices of the French Foreign Affairs Ministry, just across the river from the French President’s home.
In the meeting with Drian, of the numerous issues discussed, one of the most significant was the commitment by both the countries to significantly boost their bilateral trade, which has stagnated in the EUR 8-9 billion range for several years. The two sides decided to push the trade to EUR 15 billion within the next two years.
In her address to the diaspora, Swaraj committed that her ministry and the embassy were available to the Indian diaspora at all the times. “My ministry and this embassy is here to help you 24 by 7,” she declared, amidst loud cheers from the diaspora.
However, she also had a word of advise for the Indian community in France. “Wherever I have visited, I have heard three things about Indians that make me very proud of our diaspora. One, Indians are good neighbours; two, they are hard working; and three, they follow the law and order. These three things are the aspects that are most visible about any community and hence it is very important for all of you to consider yourselves as the real ambassadors of India. Your actions will leave a lasting memory for the French and hence it is important that you keep in mind that you are representing India here and whatever you do will impact India’s image in the mind of the French people,” Swaraj said.
During the event, Swaraj also released a book in French about doing business with Indian states, published by Media India Group on behalf of the Indian Embassy, Paris. “This is the first time that such a book has been published, which will give the French businessmen and investors detailed information about investment opportunities in various Indian states,” said Indian Ambassador to France Vinay Mohan Kwatra.