Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a three-nation tour of France, the UAE and Bahrain from August 22 to 26 to take forward bilateral relations with these three countries and attend a multi-lateral engagement attending the G7 Summit at Biarritz, France, as a partner.
Arriving in Paris on August 22, Modi held wide-ranging talks with the French President Emmanuel Macron in which the two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of the dynamic and multi-faceted relationship to further boost the comprehensive strategic partnership. The 90-minute marathon interaction was followed by the delegation-level talks. The two countries also signed four MoUs. In a joint press statement, Macron said that he had discussed Kashmir issue with Indian Prime Minister, and called for stability while stressing that no one should incite violence over this issue.
Backing New Delhi's position on Jammu and Kashmir that it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, "I told him that India and Pakistan will have to find a solution to the issue and no third party should interfere or incite violence in the region," Macron said. He said that peace should be maintained in the region and peoples' rights should be protected. "I will also speak to Pakistan Prime Minister after a few days and tell him that the talks should be held bilaterally," the French president said. Macron also said that France will deliver 1st of the 36 Rafale fighter jets to India next month.
Speaking after Macron, Prime Minister Modi said the relationship between India and France is not based on any selfishness, but on solid ideals of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity'. 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." In his departure statement, the prime minister had said his visit to France reflects the strong strategic partnership which the two countries deeply value and share. "India and France have excellent bilateral ties, which are reinforced by a shared vision to cooperate for further enhancing peace and prosperity for our two countries and the world at large," the prime minister said. It may be noted that France backed India at the UN Security Council’s closed-door consultations on Jammu and Kashmir.
Prime Minister 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. Ahead of the meeting, Macron explained the historic significance of the chateau to Modi and took him around the centuries-old building. During his two-day visit, Modi also met his French counterpart Edouard Philippe and interacted with the Indian community. at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and also inaugurate a memorial in Nid D'Aigle for Indian victims of two tragic air crashes of Air India flights in 1950 and 1966.