The bilateral meeting between PM Modi and President Macron will be held on March 10

New Delhi: Ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's maiden India trip, French sources said today that it would not be a "business as usual visit" and asserted that apart from conventional areas of cooperation such as nuclear energy and defence, the thrust would be on boosting ties in maritime and space fields.

While the French sources did not say whether the two countries would ink a pact in the nuclear energy sector, India officials told PTI that an agreement to expedite the Jaitapur nuclear plant was expected to be signed during the presidential visit. France has also been strongly supporting India's bid for membership of the export-control regime Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Special emphasis would be (laid on) cooperation in the Indian Ocean during the talks (between President Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi), a French source said, noting that France has strong economic and military interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The remarks by the French side assume significance in the backdrop of India, the US, Japan and Australia coming together and holding discussions on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN Summit in Manila last year on ways to boost cooperation in the IOR.

France has military and naval bases in the IOR, which also has a sizeable French population. The IOR has also been witnessing increasing naval presence of China.

The ISA Summit, expected to be attended by several heads of the states and governments, is likely to focus on concrete projects .

President Macron will also visit Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi, on March 11. He, along with PM Modi, will inaugurate a solar plant in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.