17:15 GMT +325 March 2019
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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top right, and French President Emmanuel Macron, top left, watch as Indian Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman, right, exchanges agreement files between India and France regarding the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces with France minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, in New Delhi, India, Saturday, March 10, 2018

    France, India Seal 14 Accords to Enhance Nuclear Energy, Security Cooperation

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    PARIS (Sputnik) - France and India on Saturday signed 14 agreements on cooperation in the strategic areas, such as nuclear energy, cybersecurity, education, environment and urban development, following the bilateral talks between French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

    Macron is currently on a first visit to India since he assumed presidential office in May 2017. The visit started on Friday and will last through Monday.

    In terms of the defense and security cooperation, the two sides have agreed to work on the protection of classified information, countering radicalization and terrorism as well as ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

    Jean-Joseph Boillot, adviser at the Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CERII) and co-president of the Euro-India Economic & Business Group, believes that India wants to become an ally of France, which is an independent and very active country.

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    "India needs strong ally on the international scene, and France is perceived as an independent and very active country. And France needs more allies, which are not pro-China, and not pro-US. It is a sort of middle path between the two super-powers, to build up a kind of secondary power – not an antagonist block, but force, counterbalancing the US and China bipolar position," Boillot said.

    In this regard, Macron said at a joint press conference in New Delhi on Saturday that while India was French partner in South Asia, France wanted to become India's partner in Europe.

    In terms of economy, Paris and New Delhi agreed on 200 million euros ($246 million) investment in Indian economy, as well as supplying Indian Spice Jet airline with engines and modernization of water supply system in the Indian city of Davanagere. A contract between French gas company Air Liquide and Indian fiber optic cable manufacturing company was also among the commercial deals signed during Macron's visit. The sides have agreed to accelerate the construction of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in India by a French company and develop railway system in India.

    Boillot noted that France had been trying to catch up with Germany on the Indian market.

    "One should not forget that the main economic partner for India is Germany, and the relations between India and Germany are also very good, but they are mostly economic. And for France it’s much more diplomatic relations. In economic terms France wants to catch up with Germany on the Indian market, and they are using diplomatic proximity with India as leverage to develop economic relations," Boillot added.

    Jean-Luc Racine, the vice-president of the Asia Center research institute told Sputnik, that India was interested in attracting French investments.

    "Indians would like to have more French investments. Now France is third biggest commercial partner for India in Europe, equivalent to Britain and after Germany… Besides economic cooperation there are geopolitical questions standing, whether we will see Franco-Indian military cooperation in the Indian Ocean advance," Racine said.

    According to the French presidential office, the contracts signed in India are worth $16 billion. During the trip, the French leader will also take part in a ceremony on Sunday, launching the International Solar Alliance summit, a common initiative announced at the Paris climate summit in 2015.


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