Tue, 18 Jun 2019

New Delhi [India], June 10 (ANI): French Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne on Monday held a special session with Indian alumni of French institutions in the field of business administration, engineering and design visuals here on Monday.

Lemoyne is on the official visit to India to do the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to France for the G7 summit in August.

Speaking to ANI earlier in the day, Lemoyne said PM Modi is scheduled to hold bilaterals with French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to the country.

"President Macron and Prime Minister Modi have a strong relationship personally and that is why he was very happy to invite Modi to join the G7 leaders' meeting at the end of August," said Lemoyne.

"India can provide a very interesting experience for the work that will be done in terms of numeric. Modi's participation will be preceded by bilateral visit; that could be a very important moment in the relations," he added.

In response to the comments made by Lemoyne on Modi's visit, spokesperson for Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar said, "Prime Minister has received an invitation from the President of France Emmanuel Macron to attend the Outreach Session at the G-7 Summit in Biarritz as a special invitee.""The invitation is a reflection of the personal chemistry between the two leaders, a demonstration of our deepening strategic partnership and recognition of India as a major economic power. PM has accepted the invitation to attend the event which will also include a bilateral component. Further details will be shared in due course," he added.

During his visit, Lemoyne also met with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and MoS for External Affairs V Muraleedharan here on Monday.

In an exclusive interview to ANI earlier in the day, Lemoyne touched on a wide range of issues of bilateral interests.

Commenting on the recent designation of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, he said, "The fight against terrorism is our priority.""France stands alongside India in this fight and I think we must address different things -- cybersecurity, for example, is crucial (so is) the fight against financing terrorism as I mentioned previously," he said.

"It's an everyday fight and I can say that we (India-France) have a strong relation in that field."India and France worked closely to get the Pakistan-based JeM chief designated, especially after the Pulwama terror attack which killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14. A JeM operative rammed into a CRPF convoy in an explosive-laden vehicle, leading to the death of the Indian personnel.

He also spoke on the attempted break-in into Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale Project Management Team in Paris last month.

"Investigation is going on, Indian authorities would be updated when new details would be provided to us," he said.

Unidentified persons broke into India's Rafale office in Paris last month in a possible espionage attempt to steal data related to the aircraft critical to India's national security plans.

The French Minister further stated that India will get its first Rafale fighter jet by September this year.

"The first Rafale jets will land in India in September. It will be a very tough signal of the effectiveness of this cooperation. Thirty-six Rafale (jets) will be delivered one by one. It's a piece of very good news for the cooperation between France and India," he said. (ANI)

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