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India, France sign 22 new agreements
February 14, 2013, 11:31 am

[Getty Images]

The French president arriving in New Delhi. [Getty Images]

France and India have signed 22 agreements after French President Francois Hollande’s meetings with the Indian president and the prime minister in New Delhi.

The two sides had detailed discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, said a joint statement.

France has announced its decision to promote an ambitious and balanced Free Trade Agreement between India and the EU.

“We come from a great partnership, India and France, and we must always improve the relationship between our two countries” said the French president.

“India is a great democracy, the biggest democracy of the world, a country which is developing and France must be with you in this challenge,” added Francois Hollande.

The president was accompanied by a high-powered delegation of five ministers including Laurent Fabius, foreign minister and Jean-Yves Le Drian, defence minister .

A Joint Statement issued during the state visit of the French president to India said the two countries will take their relationship to even higher heights across the board, in a long term perspective.

Mr Hollande who was given a red carpet reception and gun salute at the residence of the Indian president said it was “a great honour for me and for France to visit India”.

The two-day visit by politicians and business leaders began in New Delhi and will see the delegation head south to India’s financial capital Mumbai on Friday.

The French president has also reiterated France’s support to India accepting a permanent seat in an enlarged United Nations Security Council at the earliest opportunity and to India joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other export controls bodies.

The Franco-Indian strategic partnership was established 15 years ago in 1998.

Mr Hollande will be lobbying hard for the $12 billion (9.6 billion euro) deal France’s Dassault Aviation hopes to clinch to sell 126 Rafale warplanes.

Eric Trappier, Dassault’s chief executive  is also part of Hollande’s delegation.

Indian officials, however, said that although the discussions are “proceeding smoothly” it has already said the contract will not be signed during Hollande’s visit as it is being fine-tuned.

Paris will have to “wait a little” to pop the bubbly, Salman Khurshid, Indian’s foreign minister advised last week.

Both the French president  and Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister reiterated their strong support for ongoing efforts aimed at defeating terrorism in Mali.

Source: Agencies



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