India, France sign deals worth $16 billion

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says goodbye to French President Emmanuel Macron after a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe on the last leg of his four-nation visit in Paris

Will French president's India-visit be significant for India?

Macron arrived in India on Friday night along with his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron and senior ministers of his cabinet. Macron will also take part in a Town Hall and have an interactive session, in which almost 300 students from different institutions are expected to participate.

While India and France announced a slew of pacts and billions of dollars in trade deals to much fanfare on Saturday, Indo-French co-operation quietly took one small step towards a joint giant leap towards literally reaching for the stars. "I am happy that I have got an opportunity to welcome you in India", Mr Modi said at the start of his speech on Saturday. "The values of liberty, equality and fraternity echo not just in France but have been embedded in India's Constitution as well", said PM Modi.

At 9 AM Macron received a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan and he will later pay his respects to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat.

The 40-year-old president, who is travelling with a delegation of French companies that includes EDF (EDF.PA), Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA), Schneider Electric (SCHN.PA) and Suez (SEVI.PA), will also inaugurate a solar plant built by Engie (ENGIE.PA) in Uttar Pradesh.

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Briefing media in New Delhi yesterday, Joint Secretary in the MEA K. Nagaraj Naidu said, "India has a very deep engagement with France in several areas including space".

"A strong part of our security and the world's stability is at stake in the Indian Ocean", Macron said. Prime Minister Modi had last visited France in June previous year.

The agreement provides for the reciprocal provision of logistics support, supplies and services between the armed forces of the two countries during authorised port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

French President Macron and Prime Minister Modi will also visit Varanasi, where a group of local youths and some French nationals have formed a club to work towards improving man-to-man contact between the people of the two countries. The ISA was a flagship Indian initiative launched by Modi and former French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. Analysts had already predicted Macron pitching France as India's gateway to Europe after UK's exit from the European Union.

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