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India is, has always been our priority: French Prez


New Delhi: French President Emmanuel Macron, who is on his four-day India visit, arrived in New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Macron will meet on Saturday for detailed talks on boosting ties between their countries.
The visit of the French President is aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic, political and strategic dimension of our engagement, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron began his official engagements on Saturday morning, when he was given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.
“I think we (India and France) have very good chemistry. Our two great democracies have a historic relationship,” President Macron said at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“Our aim is to begin a new era in ties between our two countries. For France, India is our priority and has always been. India has been France’s first ally in the region. It is the entry point for France in the region, and my aim is to make France the entry point for India to Europe,” Macron said outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He later visited the Raj Ghat to pay his tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.
The French President is accompanied by his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, businessmen and top officials.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed President Macron by receiving him at the airport and greeted him with a hug. “Welcome to India, President @EmmanuelMacron! Your visit will add great strength to the strategic partnership between India and France,” tweeted Modi.
President Macron will “spend a lot of time with Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” reports quoted a source in the French presidency as saying, adding that the two leaders had “formed a close relationship” during President Macron’s first nine months in power.
President Macron will also meet Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. Later on Saturday noon, Modi and Marcon will hold a bilateral meet that will be followed by delegation-level talks and signing of various deals.
Agreements on civil nuclear cooperation, solar energy and transfer of electric mobility for Indian Railways and metro lines linked to smart city projects — for cities like Pune and Nagpur — are on the cards. Space cooperation is on the agenda as is a larger framework on naval cooperation. Around 40 business leaders are accompanying the French president.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet said, “The ISA is a unique effort that brings the world together to harness solar energy and create a cleaner as well as greener future.”
President Ram Nath Kovind will host a dinner in the evening for the leaders of 24 nations who will attend the conference, including Macron.
French President Macron will also pay a visit to Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi. Both the leaders will take a boat ride in the Ganges, which will also include a private lunch. They will visit Mirzapur to inaugurate a 100 MW solar power plant.