New Delhi: India and France on Tuesday held the consultations on UN Security Council and agreed to strengthen ongoing cooperation at the multilateral platform on issues of mutual interest, according to the statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Prakash Gupta, Joint Secretary (UN-Political) led the Indian delegation, including the officials from the Embassy of India in Paris. Meanwhile, the French delegation was led by Ambassador Fabien Penone, Director for International Organization, Human Rights and Francophonie Department of Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) of France along with other senior officials.

" In keeping with India-France Strategic Partnership, both sides had an in-depth exchange of views on various thematic and country-specific issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council. Both sides agreed to strengthen their ongoing cooperation at the multilateral platform on issues of mutual interest, including on Counter Terrorism, UN Peacekeeping and Reformed Multilateralism," the statement reads.

Both sides had briefed each other about their priorities during France and India's upcoming Presidencies of the UNSC in September and December 2022, respectively. They also held discussions on initiatives around the High-Level Week of the upcoming 77th Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, the statement added.

India and France have had traditionally close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into a Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship.

The two countries have a burgeoning economic relationship. French businesses and industry have forged linkages with the Indian economy and contribute significantly to our goal to become an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

There are over 1000 French businesses in India in variegated sectors such as defence, ITES, consulting, engineering services, heavy industry et al. France is the 7th largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative FDI stock of USD 9 billion from April 2, 2000, to December 2020, which represents 2 per cent of the total FDI inflows into India.

Although India has a trade surplus, India-France bilateral trade remains far below potential. In the period April 2018-March 2019, India-France bilateral trade stood at 11.59 billion Euro, India's exports to France were valued at 6.23 billion Euro meanwhile, French exports to India stood at 5.35 billion Euro.

The 18th Joint Economic Committee meeting, held virtually between the two countries on 27 November 2020, led to the signing of a bilateral 'Fast Track Mechanism' for investors. The first meetings were held on 16 February 2022 between E/I, Paris and the French Treasury and on 25 February 2022 between Secretary, DPIIT and the French Ambassador, in Paris and Delhi, respectively.

Commerce and Industries Minister Shri Piyush Goyal also held a virtual conference for French businesses in February 2021, whereby a dedicated desk was set up by Invest India for investor queries. In recent interactions at the EU level, India has sought an early harvest trade agreement, while working towards a comprehensive FTA.