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Transcript of Foreign Secretary's statement on the ongoing visit of Prime Minister to France

August 23, 2019

Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale:Prime Minister had an excellent round of discussions with President Macron last evening. The discussions lasted for over 90 minutes and was characterized by great deal of warmth and friendship and it demonstrated that France and India are two strategic partners.

Among the topics that they discussed were the forthcoming meeting of the G-7.

Prime Minister thanked President Macron for inviting India for this meeting and Prime Minister has conveyed that India stands with France on all aspects that France is pursuing and that we wish all success to France in fulfilling its agenda for the G-7 meeting.

Obviously, environment and global warming are a big part of the G-7 meeting that is taking place in the Biarritz on Saturday and Sunday.

Prime Minister conveyed that India is committed to the Paris Accord, that India has made important commitments that it intends to fulfil and Prime Minister also said that the G-7 countries and the international community at large should fulfil their commitment in regard to the environment, to global warming, to transfer of technology, to global financing, to move to more efficient systems of energy use and so on.

On the bilateral side, some discussion took place between the two leaders on the Indo-Pacific, on the possibilities of cooperation between India and France in this region.

As you know France has an island territory, the Reunion Island, and there was some discussion between the two leaders on how both sides can cooperate to ensure freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific.

Cyber security is of course and important area in which both countries are interested in, artificial intelligence is another area. The President of France and the Prime Minister of India discussed how we can cooperate in this area.

Obviously bilateral cooperation in defence and civil nuclear also figured in a general way. These are areas of long standing cooperation. We have just concluded successful Naval and Air exercises, Varuna and Garuna respectively. The Army exercise is going to take place.

Prime Minister specifically noted that we have had a very large number of students coming to France. He expressed happiness that we have a Migration and Mobility Partnership with France which allows students come into France to also stay back for a couple of years to work thereafter.

And overall there was an understanding between the two countries that we will carry the bilateral relationship ahead in the days and months to come.

Regional issues were discussed. Some of those which pertained to our region, some of those which pertained to the region around France but what was also discussed, what was also conveyed by the President Macron was a very-very clear condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

You will see from the joint statement, both leaders have specifically condemned cross-border terrorism.

A number of terrorist organizations including those such as Hizbul Mujahidin, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammad are also mentioned in the joint statement specifically as posing a danger to both countries and to the international community.

You would have seen the press statements which were carried live in which President Macron has very clearly stated that issues between India and Pakistan should be sorted out bilaterally.

The Prime Minister outlined the recent steps taken by the government on Article 370 are entirely internal affair.

The two leaders also agreed to remain in touch on this matter and other matters.

Overall I think it was a very satisfying discussion that Prime Minister had with the President.

This morning he is looking forward to a conversation with the Prime Minister of France and then addressing the Indian community before he leaves for his visit to United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Thank you.

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