New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an official visit to France on May 4 and held discussions with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron on his way back from the 2nd India-Nordic Summit in Copenhagen.

The two leaders discussed ways to work together in making the India-France Strategic Partnership a force for the global good. India and France agreed on deeper French involvement in 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' efforts in the defence sector.

During the meeting between the leaders of the two countries, India- France reaffirmed their commitment to prepare for the future together by further deepening their cooperation, expanding it in new domains to meet emerging challenges and broadening their international partnership.

India and France have built one of the premier strategic partnerships for advancing peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. They share a vision of a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, based on commitment to international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and a region free from coercion, tensions and conflicts.

The Indo-Pacific region featured prominently in the talks. Indo-Pacific partnership between the two countries encompasses defence and security, trade, investment, connectivity, health and sustainability. Besides bilateral cooperation, India and France will continue to develop new partnerships in various formats with like-minded countries in the region and within regional organisations. The first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum held in Paris in February 2022 during the French presidency of the Council of the EU launched an ambitious agenda at the EU level based on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo Pacific.

India and France reaffirmed their commitment to deepen the India-EU Strategic Partnership and look forward to working closely together in the implementation of the India-EU Connectivity Partnership and the decisions made at the India-EU Leaders' Meeting in Porto in May 2021. They welcomed the recent launch of the India-EU Trade and Technology Council that will foster high-level coordination on strategic aspects of trade, technology and security as well as the restart of negotiations on India-EU Agreements on Trade, Investment and Geographical Indicators.

The Prime Minister's visit to France displayed the strong friendship and goodwill not only between the two countries but also between the two leaders. It was a 'short yet substantive visit' in which PM Modi and French President Macron met in one-on-one and delegation-level formats in Paris.

The two leaders held discussions on the entire range of bilateral issues, including cooperation in defence, space, blue economy, civil nuclear and people-to-people ties and also took stock of the regional and global security outlook. PM Modi also invited President Macron to visit India at the earliest opportunity.

PM Modi had last visited France in August 2019. The two leaders have stayed in regular touch through calls and letters. They also met on the side-lines of the G20 Summit last year.

India and France are strong strategic partners and the two leaders are also good friends. President Macron's renewed mandate and the conversations between him and PM Modi would build on existing strengths and deepen India-France strategic partnership and also lead to a blueprint for its next phase. The two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on all the key areas of bilateral engagement, including in defence, space, civil nuclear cooperation and people-to-people linkages. They also discussed regional and global issues including developments in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific. India and France see each other as key partners in the Indo-Pacific.

On Ukraine, there was a broad understanding of each other's position. The two leaders agreed that close coordination and engagement was important so that both India and France can play a constructive role in the evolving situation.

India and France have been strategic partners since 1998. Their strategic partnership is anchored on the solid bedrock of deep and consistent mutual trust, abiding faith in strategic autonomy, unwavering commitment to international law; and belief in a multipolar world shaped by reformed and effective multilateralism. Both are committed to the shared values of democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and respect for human rights.

The two nations have a robust defence partnership, which extends to co-development, co-designing and co-manufacturing in sync with India's domestic policy of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'. India and France also share a strong partnership on environment conservation and climate action.

India and France had launched the International Solar Alliance, to harness the permanent energy of the sun and as a very strong basis for climate action. PM Modi and President Macron discussed this alliance extensively on how the two countries can partner together in areas of environmentally friendly technologies.

Prime Minister Modi invited President Macron to visit India at his earliest convenience to hold detailed discussions on the areas of cooperation outlined during the visit and to finalise the modalities of realising the goals thus identified.