French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said he wanted Paris to be New Delhi's best partner in Europe, as he started a three-day trip to India aimed at ratcheting up security and energy ties.
Mr. Macron, who was welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival late Friday, said “collective security” would be on top of the agenda during talks on Saturday.
“France is the entry point to Europe. We want to be India’s best partner in Europe,“ Mr. Macron said after a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“The first [objective of my visit] is to seal for the decade to come a strong pact around collective security in the region between our two democracies.”
The two countries are to sign an accord to step up military cooperation in the Indian Ocean where China has been flexing its muscles.
Personal rapport with Modi
Mr. Macron also talked about his personal rapport with Mr. Modi that was established after their meeting in Paris last year. “I think we have very good chemistry, our two great democracies have a historic relationship,“ he said.
Mr. Modi broke protocol to receive Mr. Macron at the airport, exchanging hugs and handshakes.
“Welcome to India, President @EmmanuelMacron! Your visit will add great strength to the strategic partnership between India and France,“ he tweeted on Friday.
On Sunday, Mr. Macron will attend a solar power summit designed to showcase India and France's commitment to fighting climate change, which both leaders have made a priority.
Travelling with his wife Brigitte, France’s 40-year-old president will also visit the Taj Mahal on Sunday. On Monday, he heads to Varanasi.