Agencies, New Delhi
Asserting that India regards France as one of its most valued strategic partners, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the relationship between the two sides is defined by the breadth and diversity of our cooperation, and by the intensity of the bilateral dialogue.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome President Francois Hollande on his state visit to India. India is his first Asian destination for a bilateral visit. This demonstrates the importance of this relationship to our two countries,” said Dr. Singh in his opening statement to the media with French President Francois Hollande by his side.
“India regards France as one of its most valued strategic partners. France has given us strong and steadfast support at difficult moments. Our relationship is defined by the breadth and diversity of our cooperation, as well as by the intensity of our dialogue. The Joint Statement that is being released today reflects the broad range of activities that is covered by our mutually beneficial engagement,” he added.
Dr. Singh said that today that he exchanged views on a number of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest with President Hollande.
“We reviewed progress on the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project and reiterated our commitment to its early implementation as soon as the commercial and technical negotiations, which have made good progress, are completed,” said Dr. Singh.
The Prime Minister said the two sides also expressed satisfaction with the progress in defence cooperation, which is poised to reach a qualitatively new level.
“Discussions on the MMRCA contract are progressing well. We have also concluded negotiations on the Short Range Surface to Air Missile, which, once approved by the Government, will be co-developed and co-produced in India,” said Dr. Singh.
“There is a welcome shift from defence trade to co-development and co-production of advanced defence items in India, which will help expand our domestic production base and strengthen the India-France strategic partnership,” he added.