French President Emmanuel Macron arrived New Delhi on Friday night on a four-day India visit and was received at the airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a special gesture.
Macron was accompanied by his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, besides senior ministers from his Cabinet.
During the visit, the two countries would look to boost ties, especially in the areas of maritime security and counter-terrorism.
An agreement on the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, which is being built with French assistance, is expected to be signed during the visit, sources here said.
Stepping up cooperation in the Indian Ocean region will be one of the top issues that will be discussed by Macron and Prime Minister Modi during delegation-level talks on Saturday.
“France has particularly supported India’s perspective on terror in South Asia. We are seeing convergence in new areas, particularly maritime security, counter-terrorism and renewable energy,” K Nagraj Naidu, joint secretary (Europe-west), told reporters.
Besides defence, cooperation in the areas of nuclear energy and space are the other pillars of the strategic partnership between India and France.
“In the area of space, India and France have a matured engagement and we would like to take it to a new level,” Naidu said.
The Indo-French cooperation in the area of space is more than five-decades-old.
Besides conventional areas, thrust would also be on renewable energy, high-speed train and stepping cooperation in trade.
After holding delegation-level talks with Modi tomorrow, Macron will take part in a Town Hall and have an interactive session, in which nearly 300 students from different levels and institutions are expected to participate.
On the same day, he will also take part in a Knowledge Summit which will be attended by more than 200 academicians from both sides.
On March 11, President Macron will attend the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Summit, an initiative mooted by France and India.
The ISA Summit, expected to be attended by several heads of the states and governments, is likely to focus on concrete projects. On the same day, he will also visit Taj Mahal in Agra.
President Macron will also visit Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi, on March 12.
He, along with Modi, will inaugurate a solar plant in Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur.