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SOURCE: ANI

In a reaffirmation of the longstanding friendship between India and France, President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said, “Long live the friendship between France and India.” At the outset of his address during a banquet hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, Macron expressed heartfelt gratitude for the warm welcome extended to his delegation.

Macron shared his appreciation for the unique bond that transcends time and shared values. The French President acknowledged the exceptional welcome and recalled the five years since his last state visit, expressing his pleasure at returning to India after the resounding success of India’s G20.

Macron expressed deep honour in having French soldiers participate alongside their Indian counterparts, deeming it an unforgettable memory for the entire delegation.

“It is with the most pleasure that we are here and to come back five years after our former state visit and five months after the success of your G20. We were extremely honoured to be part of such an important and unique day and to have our soldiers being alongside with you and being part of this exceptional moment. I think this is for everybody here in this delegation, in our memories forever,” he said.

Highlighting the warmth of their meetings, Macron reflected on the special relationship between India and France, citing the recent joint celebration of Bastille Day and the reciprocal visit during the 75th Republic Day.

“Clearly, we don’t seem to be able to stay apart…This is probably due to the very special relation we have together. And the fact that between India and France there is something very special because we do share a lot of similarities,” the French President said.

The President emphasised the shared taste for history, culture, creativity, and gastronomy, underlining the special connection that goes beyond diplomatic ties.

Macron’s recounted his visit to Jaipur, with Prime Minister Modi showcasing the symbolic moments that resonated with historical significance.

“Yesterday, I was delighted, Prime Minister, to discover Jaipur with you. We had a wonderful stay from Amber Fort to the Palace of Winds. Through the city it was extremely moving and definitely referred to poems of Tagore translated into French by Andre Gide, another poet and novelist, which is part of our common culture of India and France because it was translated one century ago. And I will not forget the Chai we shared together close to the palace because it was a chai paid with UPI. And this is the perfect synthesis of why it is so special. Friendship and the warmth of such a celebration tradition and innovation,” Macron said.

The visit to Jantar Mantar, where French Jesuit astronomers collaborated with India in the 18th century, was portrayed as a precursor to contemporary space cooperation.

“We went to the Jantar Mantar that we visited together. And I don’t forget that it allowed two French Jesuit astronomers in 1734 to determine with precision the latitude and longitude of Jaipur. It was undoubtedly as well the first space cooperation in history and we did it together between India and France,” he said.

The French President underscored the comprehensive partnership between the two nations, spanning scientific collaboration, culture, education, defence industry, nuclear energy, and more. Macron highlighted the signing of the 2047 roadmap, envisioning a future of mutual cooperation in various fields.

“This ceremony was for me a sort of metaphor the whole relation we want to have and we will have. And from scientific links to culture, to education, to defence industry, nuclear energy, and all the different sectors being present here, I have to say that the intensity is due to the fact that, indeed, we do share this willingness to have a warm and friendly common approach, to respect our tradition, especially our culture on both sides, but to build together the future. This is exactly what is called for the ambition of our own friendship,” he added.

Emphasizing the shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region, Macron advocated for a free and open environment while rejecting any hegemony.

“We do share the same vision of Indo-Pacific region as well. A region which should not be spoiled and trapped by the hegemony of some powers, but a region that we want to see free and open. And this free and open Indo-Pacific, it’s, I think, one of the anchor of the bilateral relation we have because we do share the same values and the same principle for the whole region,” the French President added.

He pointed to joint efforts in global forums, including COP28 and the upcoming United Nations conference for oceans in 2025, as manifestations of their shared values and principles.

“This is exactly what we conveyed together from the COP28 this is what we will convey together what we conveyed together during your G20 and thanks again for your leadership and this is what we will do together from the United Nations Conference for oceans that France will host in 2025 and definitely in the meanwhile this is what we will do share as well for our Olympic Games that we will organize this year,” he also said.

Also bullish on strengthening cooperation in sports, Macron pledged support for India’s intention to organize future Olympic Games. “And we will be delighted to build a stronger cooperation on sports and this type of event as well with you, as we will definitely support your intention to organize Olympic Games in India for the future,” he added.

He concluded by affirming his commitment to the enduring friendship between France and India, dedicating the efforts not only to the present but also to the young and future generations. “We have a lot of things to do together for the month and the years to come and the decades to come. What we have to do, as you fairly said, Madame President, is largely dedicated to the young and future generations,” he added.

Meanwhile, a post on the official X handle of the Rashtrapati Bhavan read, “President Droupadi Murmu hosted a banquet in honour of His Excellency Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic at Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Murmu expressed satisfaction that both sides have outlined an ambitious vision of our partnership for India’s Amrit Kaal and added that this visit has strengthened our resolve to realise this vision.”

Earlier in the day, French President Macron attended the 75th Republic Day Parade as the chief guest.

President Droupadi Murmu and PM Narendra Modi warmly greeted him as he arrived at Kartavya Path. French contingents marched alongside Indian forces during the parade.

The French President is in India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.