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PM Modi embarks on three nation tour with France

New Delhi, Apr 9 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday is beginning a three-nation tour with France as the first stopover and followed by Germany and Canada as his visit will focus on nuclear power, defence and infrastructure development tie-ups.

The PM will be in France till April 12.

“Prime Minister would be travelling to France, Germany and Canada in that order. If I were to pick a common theme for these destinations, I think you would all appreciate these three countries are all G7 countries, they are industrialised democracies. We have a considerable economic interest in partnering with these countries,” said Ministry of External Affair spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin briefing the media on Wednesday.

“They are very relevant to lot of our national development programmes. They are all democratic countries as well. So, in that sense we have a larger political convergence with them,” he said.

In France, Modi will meet French President Francois Hollande. Modi will reach Paris on Wednesday evening.

“His day begins on the 10th with a ceremonial welcome in the morning. He then goes on to a roundtable. He has two back to back roundtables – one is with French CEOs with infrastructure as a theme, and the second is with French CEOs with defence technology as a theme.

“On infrastructure, as you know it is something which is a very high priority for the Government and we do believe a lot of French companies have expertise and capabilities to contribute. In the case of defence, for us our relationship with France traditionally has had defence, space and nuclear as three important facets of that relationship. French companies are very capable, very experienced in the defence side, and we hope that the roundtable with French defence companies would lead to their taking interest in Make in India investments in India in the defence side,” said Akbaruddin.

“After these two roundtables the Prime Minister goes to UNESCO. He will be speaking in UNESCO. Then he goes on to a lunch which was hosted for him by the President of the National Assembly, who is like the French Speaker. In the afternoon he has his talks with President Hollande. It begins with a tete-e-tete and then goes on to delegation-level talks. And the Prime Minister and the French President would together receive a report of the India-France CEOs Forum, which is actually meeting today, which would be deliberating and submitting a set of recommendations,” said the PM.

“There will be some agreements which would be signed. Those details will of course only be known closer to time. Then Prime Minister and the President would take a boat ride on the Seine. So it is a sort of Naav pe Charcha situation. Then there is a banquet which the President would be hosting for the Prime Minister. That takes us through the 10th.

“On the 11th, the Prime Minister would be travelling to Toulouse where he will tour the Airbus facility. Again many of you would be aware that Airbus is a company which has been working with different Indian companies. So we see it as a partner for technology transfer and for investments. So, that is very much a thought as we put this programme together.

“Then he goes to CNES which is the French space company. Then he has a meeting with the local government. It is like the way visiting Heads of Government visit States in India. Then he goes on to a place called Lille from where he would be driving to a World War I memorial. The purpose of the visit is really to bring out the role of Indian soldiers during World War I. About 10,000 soldiers gave up their lives in World War I in France. So this is obviously an occasion which is important to note the Indian contribution. This is a subject on which there has been a very good exhibition, some of you may have seen, at the Manekshaw Centre. Recently Raksha Mantri and Videsh Mantri both hosted the diplomatic community to introduce them and show them that exhibition,” said the spokesperson.

“Then from there he returns to Paris. There is a community reception. The community reception would actually be shown outside Paris to French possessions where Indians reside. Then he has a meeting with the former President Sarkozy,” he said.

On the 12th, the Prime Minister leaves for Hannover. In Hannover almost soon after his arrival he gets into meetings with German business leaders. The reason Hannover has been picked as the destination is “we are the partner country for the Hannover Messe, the Hannover Fair, this year.”

“We have a very, very big presence of Indian companies there,” said the MEA spokesperson.

The opening ceremony of the Hannover Fair is in the evening. Chancellor Angela Merkel would be there for the opening ceremony. She will thereafter host a working dinner for the Prime Minister in Hannover.

“The next morning there is a joint inauguration by Prime Minister and Chancellor Merkel of the India Pavilion. So, the first day there is inauguration of the entire fair at which Prime Minister would be present, and on the second day it is a specific inauguration of the India Pavilion. And the two leaders will actually walk about the Central Pavilion and then they go on to inaugurate and address an India-Germany Business Summit,” said Akbaruddin.

Modi then would visit Berlin and besides official welcome would be touring the German railway station, which also is a very unique, a sort of model railway station in Europe.

Modi will visit his last destination Canada from Apr 14-16.

He will meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the visit to the country.

The visit to Canada is at the invitation of the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

MEA officials said the PM’s visit is of great significance because it is the first standalone Prime Ministerial visit to Canada after 40 years. The last standalone Prime Ministerial visit was in 1973. So it is taking place after 42 years.

During the visit, the Prime Minister will be travelling to Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. He would have extensive interaction with both the political and business leadership. He would also have interaction with other opinion leaders from the Canadian polity and society. Also given that people-to-people contact is a very important component of bilateral relationship, PM is also scheduled to have extensive interaction with the Indian diaspora both in Toronto and in Vancouver.

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