India-France relation is now geared towards the next quarter century, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi who reached Paris on July 13 afternoon. In an interview that he gave to Les Echos before commencing the journey to Paris, Prime Minister Modi made a strong pitch for the overhauling of the international political-economic architecture and described India as a bridge between the West and the Global South.
In a special gesture, Elisabeth Borne, Prime Minister of France, received Mr. Modi at the airport and a ceremonial welcome and Guard of honour were accorded. This visit also marks the celebration of 25th anniversary of India-France Strategic Partnership.
“I look forward to meeting President Macron and holding wide-ranging discussions on taking forward this longstanding and time-tested partnership over the next 25 years. I have had the opportunity to meet President Macron several times since my last Official Visit to France in 2022, most recently in Hiroshima, Japan in May 2023 during the G-7 Summit,” said PM Modi in his remarks before leaving Delhi.
Mr Modi described the visit as “particularly special” as it will feature his presence in the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on Friday where a tri-service Indian contingent will participate in the famous military parade. Three aircraft of the Indian Air Force will also perform a flypast during the parade. Mr Modi announced that he will meet members of the Indian diaspora in France during his visit and interact with Prime Minister of France Elizabeth Borne and President of the Senate Gerard Larcher.
In his interview to Les Echo, Mr Modi said there is a “feeling of anguish” in the Global South about the economic hardships that the Global South is facing. In the interview, he made a strong appeal for the reform of the UN Security Council and said, “How can the UN Security Council claim to speak for the world when its most populous country, and its largest democracy, is not a permanent member?”. French President Emmanuel Macron, he said shares his views on the international order. “The right of the Global South has long been denied,” said Mr Modi in the interview.
The Global South has emerged as an important part of India’s diplomacy regarding the upcoming G20 summit that India will host in September. India has been championing the cause of the Global South as the less developed economies are facing an uphill task in managing the economic affairs that has taken a beating in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis and the accompanying commodities crisis.
During the day, Prime Minister Modi held meeting meetings with Gerard Latcher, President of the Senate and Prime Minister Borne. “The leaders reviewed various facets of India-France partnership as well as discussed measures to further strengthen the ties between both the countries,” the Prime Minister’s Office said on the talks with Ms. Borne.
Later in the day, he attended an event with the Indian diaspora at La Seine Musicale. It will be followed by a private dinner hosted by President Macron. The main part of the visit will take place on Friday when France marks the Bastille Day celebrations where Mr Modi will be the “chief guest”.
“This visit is particularly special as I will join President Macron for the French National Day, or Bastille Day celebrations in Paris as the Guest of Honour. An Indian tri-services contingent will be part of the Bastille Day Parade, while Indian Air Force aircraft will perform a fly-past on the occasion,” said Mr Modi in his remarks.
Visit to UAE
From Paris, Mr. Modi said, he will be travelling to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for an official visit on July 15.
"I look forward to meeting my friend, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi," he said.
"Our two countries are engaged across a wide range of sectors such as trade, investments, energy, food security, science and technology, education, fintech, defence, security, and robust people-to-people ties," he noted.
Mr. Modi said last year, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and he agreed on a Roadmap on the future of the bilateral partnership, and he looks forward to discussing with him how to further deepen ties.
Noting that the UAE will be hosting the 28th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC (COP-28) later this year, the Prime Minister said he also looks forward to exchanging views on strengthening global cooperation towards accelerating climate action to facilitate the energy transition and implementation of the Paris Agreement.
"I am confident that my visit to UAE will usher in a new chapter in our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)