French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna who is set to embark on an official trip to India will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 75th anniversary of Indo-French diplomatic relations and will hold in-depth bilateral consultations with the External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar to cover the gamut of bilateral strategic partnership between the two nations.

The French foreign Minister will be visiting India from September 14-15 on her first official trip to India and her first bilateral visit to Asia and it marks her first visit to India as well as her first bilateral visit to Asia since assuming office, read the Ministry of External Affairs release.

The aim of Minister Colonna’s visit is to move forward with an ambitious agenda to deepen and expand the Indo-French strategic partnership ahead of its 25th anniversary next year. The visit also demonstrates France’s unwavering commitment to the Indo-Pacific and determination to work with India to find common solutions to global disorders.

As per the official statement, Minister Colonna will pay a call on PM Modi on September 14, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and will convey France’s full support to India’s upcoming G20 presidency following which she will exchange dialogue with EAM Jaishankar on regional and global subjects of common interest, and coordination on issues under consideration at the United Nations Security Council, which France is currently chairing.

Moreover, the French Foreign Affairs Minister will also meet National Security Advisor Ajit Doval for discussions on regional and global security issues, strengthened defence cooperation, as well as the implementation of France’s counter-terrorism cooperation with India, which is hosting the “No Money for Terror” conference this year.

Underscoring the importance of people-to-people ties in the Indo-French relationship, Minister Colonna will interact with students of Lady Shri Ram College for Women. The Minister will present the avenues for India-France student mobility, particularly as facilitated by the bilateral agreement on mobility, and lay out France’s actions to improve gender equality and promote women’s empowerment in line with its feminist foreign policy, according to the release.

As part of the visit, Colonna will travel to Mumbai for engagements with industry leaders and site visits on September 15.

India and France have a longstanding strategic partnership, strengthened by regular high-level consultations and growing convergences in various areas.

The French Foreign Minister’s visit will pave the way for further strengthening the partnership across trade, defence, climate, migration and mobility, education and health sectors, added the release.

India and France have traditionally had close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into a Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship. The two countries have a burgeoning economic relationship. French businesses and industry have forged linkages with the Indian economy and contribute significantly to our goal to become an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Although India has a trade surplus, India-France bilateral trade remains far below potential. In the period April 2018-March 2019, India-France bilateral trade stood at 11.59 billion Euro, India’s exports to France were valued at 6.23 billion Euro meanwhile, French exports to India stood at 5.35 billion Euro.

The 18th Joint Economic Committee meeting, held virtually between the two countries on 27 November 2020, led to the signing of a bilateral ‘Fast Track Mechanism’ for investors. The first meetings were held on 16 February 2022 between E/I, Paris and the French Treasury and on 25 February 2022 between Secretary, DPIIT and the French Ambassador, in Paris and Delhi, respectively.