France President Emmanuel Macron to arrive in India today

No.1 ally in Europe? Emmanuel Macron to arrive in India today seeks to displace UK's status

As PM Modi and President Macron met, the French presidency said in a statement that French and Indian companies today signed contracts worth 13 billion ($16 billion).

The EDF and the NPCIL is yet to agree on the cost per unit and the credit aspect, which France will give to India for building the plant in Maharashtra.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said he wants to double the exchange of students between India and France. "We want our (India and France) youth to know each other's countries, understand and work so that thousands of ambassadors are ready for our relations and in this direction we have signed two agreements today", he said. India is rallying support of countries including France and Australia on the maritime security front.

Both sides also decided that both countries will strengthen the coordination in existing worldwide and regional bodies to carry out this objective. "It is the entry point for France in the region, and my aim is to make France the entry point for India to Europe", Macron said outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. During the talks, both the leaders are expected to review the progress achieved in bilateral relations and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest. The first aircraft is expected to arrive by 2019.

"India had made a sovereign decision in this respect (Rafale fighter jet) and we are monitoring the progress in the field". "We consider France one of our most reliable defence allies".

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Macron is scheduled to visit Modi's constituency Varanasi.

"France has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, of which 24 percent lies in the Indian Ocean region", Singh wrote on her blog on Friday. "I look forward to our talks tomorrow". They acknowledged that the Make-in-India initiative offers a valuable opportunity for Indian and French defence enterprises to enter into arrangements for co-development and co-production of defence equipment in India, including through transfer of know-how and technologies to the mutual benefit of all parties.

Sources in the French presidency said they were optimistic of a final agreement being signed before the end of the year.

The President said that India's strategic ties with France have been expanding not just in traditional sectors of defence, space and civil nuclear energy but also in the emerging areas of counter-terrorism and maritime and cyber-security.

"In the future, Indian Ocean will play a crucial role in peace and stability, whether it is about environment or freedom of navigation", said the Indian Prime Minister.

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