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India should preserve its ‘impressive’ diversity, says French envoy

Paris had issued a travel advisory for its nationals last weeek after protests erupted in Assam and other parts of the Northeast against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

India should maintain the rich tradition of pluralism and diversity that is a prominent feature of the country, Emmanuel Lenain, France’s newly appointed ambassador to India, said on Monday. Speaking at his first press conference, the envoy praised India’s tradition of diversity as “impressive” and called for a stronger fight against international terrorism.

“India is in fact much more diverse than Europe. I find India’s diversity striking and impressive,” said Mr. Lenain, sharing his observations about India. Mr. Lenain submitted his credentials to the President of India Ram Nath Kovind on October 3.

“Keep it like this,” said the envoy in response to a question on how India’s diversity can be strengthened.

France has maintained silence on the ongoing protests regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act indicating that the issue is “internal” to India. However, Paris is watching the situation and last week issued a travel advisory for its nationals after protests erupted in Assam and other parts of the Northeast against the controversial new law. When asked about France’s opinion on the ongoing protests against the Act, the envoy said, “You can challenge it in front of the Supreme Court. Obviously, we attach great importance to freedom of religious belief. But it is a domestic issue.”

The envoy stated that India and France were collaborating closely on countering terrorism and indicated that Paris would exert more pressure on Pakistan to stop terror financing.

“Financing is a key aspect in the fight against terrorism. That is why France and other like minded countries decided to launch an initiative called “no money for terror”,” said Mr. Lenain.

The envoy said Pakistan needed to meet its obligations as agreed to at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) adding, “Regarding FATF, my country and all others decided that pressure should be exerted and Pakistan should meet its obligations [to stop terror financing]. We have a review coming up in February and we will see by then.”

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 7:36:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-should-preserve-its-impressive-diversity-says-french-envoy/article30324168.ece

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