Colombo: French President Emmanuel Macron held discussions on bilateral cooperation and on an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region with Sri Lankan delegation headed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, according to statements by both sides on Saturday.

The visit was the first-ever visit by a French President to Sri Lanka.

During the "historic" visit, Wickremesinghe and Macron held friendly and productive bilateral discussions which lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes, the Sri Lankan President's office said.

The main objective of the visit was to enhance and elevate the existing relations between Sri Lanka and France, especially considering the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic ties being celebrated this year, according to the statement.

As the fourth-largest creditor to Sri Lanka, France pledged its assistance in the debt restructuring process, aiming for a positive outcome for the country, the statement read.

Macron arrived in Sri Lanka on the night of July 28 following his trip to the South Pacific region.

“It was a pleasure to welcome French President @EmmanuelMacron on his historic visit to #SriLanka. During the bilateral meeting that followed between our delegations, we discussed the wide range of areas of French-Sri Lankan cooperation and agreed to further strengthen our relationship,” Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry tweeted on Saturday.

Macron said Sri Lanka, France share the same goal of an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

“Sri Lanka and France are two Indian Ocean nations that share the same goal: an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific. In Colombo we confirmed it: strengthened by 75 years of diplomatic relations, we can open a new era of our partnership,” Macron posted on Twitter after the meeting.

The discussions between the two leaders focused on strengthening cooperation in various sectors, including politics, economics, tourism, climate change, sustainable development, and maritime activities. As part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations, several specific areas for further collaboration were identified.

These areas of cooperation included the establishment of a school for maritime safety and security, the opening of a permanent office for the French Agency for Development (AFD) in Sri Lanka, the initiation of high-level diplomatic dialogues, cooperation in the education sector, and the enhancement of efforts to combat human trafficking in the maritime safety and security sector.

Macron expressed keen interest in collaborating with Sri Lanka during its upcoming chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), of which France is a member. In turn, President Wickremesinghe showed interest in the Indian Ocean Commission, where France actively participates, a statement read.

Wickremesinghe expressed admiration for France’s significant role in global affairs, particularly in areas such as climate mitigation, global debt restructuring, and matters related to the Indo-Pacific region, the Sri Lankan President's office said.

The French President's Sri Lanka visit came as a short stopover on his return home from a five-day visit to the Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The French President expressed his strong support to complete the debt restructuring process from both the Paris Club Secretariat as well as the French Government to encourage all other partners to support and expedite the completion of Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring strategy, according to Sri Lanka-based Daily Mirror newspaper.

The Sri Lankan president last met Macron in Paris in June during the heads of state sessions of the Conference for a new global financial agreement.