Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in France on the first leg of a three-nation trip, held a marathon one-on-one meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron during which they reviewed the entire gamut of the dynamic and multi-faceted relationship to further boost the strategic partnership.
The two leaders held “more than 90-minute long one-on-one meeting reviewing the entire gamut of our dynamic & multifaceted relationship,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
“Our strategic partnership is a very important pillar of our foreign policy,” he added.
Ahead of the meeting, Modi said the talks will add to the ground covered during previous interactions with the French leadership.
In his departure statement, the prime minister said his visit to France reflects the strong strategic partnership which the two countries deeply value and share.
Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said that India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally and that no third party should interfere or incite violence there after Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained to him about the changes brought about in Kashmir and that it is part of India’s sovereignty.
After their 90-minute long one-on-one meeting at Chateau de Chantilly, a prime French cultural heritage spot, Macron addressing the media said that: “PM Modi told me about Jammu and Kashmir, and I said that Pakistan and India should resolve the situation, and we do not want that a third party should step in or spoil the situation or incite violence”.
“PM Modi explained what are the developments and changes he has brought there in Kashmir and that it is part of India’s sovereignty, and it important that there is calm, and we should take steps to ensure the situation is not allowed to turn violent.”
The French President further said that he would speak to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the issue and tell him that the talks should be held bilaterally.
He also informed that France will deliver the first of the 36 Rafale fighter jets to India next month.
Modi, in his speech, congratulated France for hosting the G7 summit in Biarritz. He said in the field of India’s development, for France has a golden opportunity to participate in the areas of skill development, civil aviation, IT, space and many other spheres. “Defence cooperation is a major area of our collaboration.”
Without mentioning Kashmir, Modi said: “For two decades we have been taking strides on the path of our strategic partnership. We are dependable partners, and during tough times have understood each others’ points of view and also backed it. President Macron and I discussed all aspects of our relationship,” he said.
The meeting was followed by delegation-level talks.
Ahead of the meeting at Chateau de Chantilly, one of the finest jewels of French cultural heritage, located about 50 km north of Paris, Macron explained the historic significance of the chateau to Modi and took him around the centuries-old building.
Earlier on Thursday, Modi was accorded a red-carpet welcome at the airport where he was received by Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“India and France enjoy extremely friendly ties and have been working together bilaterally and multilaterally for years,” Modi tweeted soon after his arrival.
Modi will also interact with the Indian community and dedicate a memorial to the Indian victims of the two Air India crashes in France in the 1950s and 1960s.
From France, Modi will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain before returning to France to attend the G7 Summit from August 25-26.
(With agency inputs)