NEW DELHI(PTI): French President Francois Hollande landed in Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon on a three-day visit to India.
The President will be joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during sightseeing to tourist spots Rock Garden, Capitol Complex, Government Museum and Art gallery in Chandigarh. Prime Minister Modi and the French President are expected to address a CEOs forum and India-French Business Summit in Chandigarh. Thereafter, the visiting dignitary will depart for New Delhi. He will be accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourts of Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday. Later, he will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi at the Hyderabad House, which will be followed by signing of agreements in various key sectors.
On January 26, the French President will witness the Republic Day parade at Rajpath as the chief guest. This is the fifth time that a serving President of France will be the Chief Guest at India?s Republic Day function. Also, for the first time in independent India’s history, foreign troops (French troops) will be participating in the Republic Day parade. Earlier, the Indian troops had participated in the Bastille Day celebrations in France in 2009.
Here is what Hollande said about France’s ties with India-
On being the Chief Guest for Republic Day celebrations
I am on a State Visit to India for the second time and I am very proud to be the Chief Guest of the Republic Day. The Indo-French relationship is based on shared values: freedom, democracy, progress. A French contingent will march along Indian forces on Rajpath. This is historic. The 35th Infantry was created in 1604. These last weeks, it took part in a counter-terrorism exercise with the Indian Army in Rajasthan. I would like to add that it also fought in India against the troops of the East India Company in the 1780s along with the troops of the ruler of Mysore. I received Prime Minister Modi in Paris, less than a year ago. We have established a relationship of trust.
And further raised the level of our partnership.
On strategic ties between India and France.
I also come to India to strengthen our relationship in several areas: defense, space and civil nuclear energy. As well as education, research, culture. Our cooperation on the fight against climate change and on clean energies has taken on an unprecedented importance. And India has contributed to the success of the Paris climate conference. There we launched the Solar Alliance and committed to concrete programs in renewable energies, energy storage, urban development.
My visit will enable us to conclude a series of new agreements and take a step towards the implementation of the agreements we signed last April in Paris. I am thinking of railways, smart cities, food security, higher education. As well as cinema. The variety of subjects reflects the density of what France and India can do together
On terrorism and co-operation with India on counter-terror activities
India and France are confronted with similar threats: we are attacked by murderers who pretend to act on religious basis. Their real objective is widespread hate. They want to undermine our democratic values and our way of life. India and France are united in their determination to act together against terrorism. France strongly condemned the attack on Pathankot. India is fully justified to ask for justice against perpetrators. I congratulate Prime Minister Modi for his diplomacy reflecting both a sense of proportion and a strong determination. He recently took important steps to engage in a dialogue with the political leadership in Pakistan.
Solidarity between France and India is natural. I would like to thank once again President Mukherjee and Prime Minister Modi for their messages after the Daesh (ISIS) attacks in Paris in November. French people have also been very touched by the numerous gestures of friendship received from all over India. I think in particular of a paper banner 24m long bearing the signatures and drawings of thousands of school children. The flow of Indian tourists and visitors continued to increase this winter, helping Paris to remain the Paris we love. They are warmly welcome, more than ever.We engage constantly with India. The Indo-French working group on counter-terrorism met just after the Paris attacks in November 2015. That was the best answer to show our determination in front of jihadism.
Defence ties and the Rafale fighter jet deal
Our cooperation on defense is part of our strategic partnership. It is based on trust, a very strong trust between both our countries.
The Rafale is a major project for India and France. It will pave the way for an unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation, including ‘Make in India’, for the next 40 years. Agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time, but we are on the right track.