French foreign minister to begin 3-day India visit on Tuesday

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New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will begin a three-day visit to India on Tuesday to boost cooperation in a range of key areas, including in the Indo-Pacific region.

Announcing the visit, the Ministry of External affairs (MEA) said it will pave the way for further strengthening of the bilateral partnership across the trade, defence, climate, migration and mobility, education and health sectors in the post-COVID-19 context.

It said Le Drian will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, besides meeting Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar at a panel discussion on climate change.

The French embassy, in a statement, said the talks between Jaishankar and Le Drian will cover 'all aspects of the bilateral strategic partnership, joint initiatives in the Indo-Pacific, regional and global issues of common interest and cooperation in the UN Security Council'.

It said Le Drian is undertaking the visit from April 13-15 to strengthen the strategic ties between France and India, boost cooperation in several fields, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

The embassy said the visiting minister will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The French minister is also scheduled to participate in the Raisina Dialogue.

At an event on Tuesday, Le Drian will appoint 15 alumni ambassadors chosen from the prestigious France Alumni Network, in keeping with France's goal to boost student mobility between the two countries, the embassy said.

These alumni have pursued studies in the fields of science, management, art, culinary and social sciences and become leaders in their respective fields in India, it said.

On Tuesday evening, the minister will address a gathering on Indo-French cooperation in cinema and the promotion of gender equality in the industry.

'Gender equality is a top priority for France's diplomacy and French cooperation with India,' the embassy said.

On Wednesday, Le Drian, along with Javadekar, will take part in a panel discussion at the French embassy on boosting global action against climate change in view of COP26.

The panel will feature French Ambassador for Climate Stephane Crouzat and several Indian civil society figures who are active in environment protection, the embassy said.

On Thursday, Le Drian will travel to Bengaluru, where he will highlight the Indo-French cooperation on health and biological sciences at the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster (BLiSc).

He is also scheduled to visit the ISRO's Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC).

The minister will conclude his visit to India by meeting the French tech community, Bangalore-India to promote cooperation between the two countries in the field of technological innovations and the development of ties between Indian and French startups. PTI MPB RC