On the fourth and final leg of his six-day, four-nation tour of Europe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday, as the two leaders discussed various issues of global and mutual interests.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement, saying that PM Modi and President Macron agreed to boost bilateral ‘strategic’ ties and to counter terrorism (together). They also discussed the future of ‘climate change’ after the US’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement. During their first meeting at the Elysee Palace, the visiting Indian premier vowed to go “above and beyond” the Paris accord to combat climate change.
A couple of days after Washington announced its withdrawal from the global deal on curbing carbon emissions, Modi said that America’s decision would have no impact on India’s efforts to tackle climate change. “It was part of the world’s shared heritage and India would continue working on this… above and beyond the Paris accord,” he stressed while speaking at a joint press conference with President Macron. Claiming that protecting “mother Earth” is part of Indian culture, he insisted: “For Indians, environmental protection is a profession of faith because we learn it in the Vedas (ancient Indian literature).”
For his part, President Macron said that the Paris agreement is aimed at strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise in this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. He thanked New Delhi for working hard to protect the environment, stressing that he would visit India, the world’s third largest polluter, by the end of 2017.
The French president further assured his guest that Paris would fully support New Delhi’s fight against terrorism. He said that France, which has always considered India as a ‘friend’, would help the South Asian country fight against the biggest menace of the world. Macron informed the media that he and PM Modi discussed extensively how to save the world from terrorism and radicalisation. Referring to a series of terror attacks that rocked France and other European countries in recent years, the Indian premier said: “We cannot see the danger of climate change, but we can see the horrific effects of terrorism, we can feel it. Innocent people, women, children lose their lives to terror. Every child in France knows the face of terror.”
The two leaders also agreed to boost bilateral co-operation in other sectors, with Modi saying: “India and France enjoy deep-rooted ties. Our nations have been working together for a very long time, bilaterally and multilaterally. Be it trade and technology, innovation and investment, energy, education and enterprise, we want to give a boost to India-France ties.”
Meanwhile, President Macron backed New Delhi’s stand on important global issues, such as UN Security Council reforms and India’s permanent membership of the UNSC and membership of the various multilateral export control regimes. He told the press that France, which is India’s ninth largest investment partner, would support the South Asian country’s development initiatives in different areas, like defence, space, nuclear and renewable energy, urban development and railways.
Before leaving for New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi thanked President Macron for accompanying him to the Arc de Triomphe to pay homage to Indian soldiers. He arrived in Paris from St Petersburg, where he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also attended an international economic forum. Before Russia, the Indian PM visited Germany and Spain to hold talks with the top leadership there.