H.E. Ms Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, undertook an official trip to India on 14th – 15th September 2022. This marked her first visit to India as well as her first bilateral visit in Asia since assuming office.
The aim of Minister Colonna’s visit was 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 demonstrated France’s unwavering commitment to the Indo-Pacific and determination to work with India to find common solutions to global disorders.
On Wednesday, 14th September, Minister Colonna paid a call on Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. In a year that marks the 75th anniversary of Indo-French diplomatic relations, Minister Colonna highlighted France’s belief that our trust-based strategic partnership is our best asset to continue boosting our strategic autonomy and uphold a multipolar rules-based world order. In this respect, Minister Colonna conveyed France’s full support to India’s upcoming G20 presidency.
Minister Colonna held in-depth bilateral consultations with Dr S. Jaishankar, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs of India. Their talks covered the gamut of our bilateral strategic partnership, regional and global subjects of common interest, and coordination on issues under consideration at the United Nations Security Council, which France is currently chairing.
The French Foreign Affairs Minister also met Shri Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser to Prime Minister, 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 interacted with students of Lady Shri Ram College for Women. The Minister presented the avenues for India-France student mobility, particularly as facilitated by the bilateral agreement on mobility, and laid out France’s actions to improve gender equality and promote women’s empowerment in line with its feminist foreign policy.
On the second day of her trip, Thursday, 15th September, Minister Catherine Colonna traveled to Mumbai. The Minister met with leading Indian investors with business interests in France, in a context where France has been ranked as the top European destination for FDI for the third year in a row.
The Minister addressed the annual general meeting of the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI). She called upon French companies to continue investing in India’s immense potential with sustainable solutions that help meet India’s ecological transition goals and strengthen the Indo-French partnership for the planet.
In the afternoon, Minister Colonna delivered a speech on “France and India in the Indo-Pacific: an essential partnership in challenging times” at an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). This was Minister Colonna’s first major speech on the Indo-Pacific since assuming office and was an occasion to highlight the key role of the France-India strategic partnership in delivering a positive agenda for security and prosperity in the region. The French Minister also toured Mazagon Dock shipyard, where she visited “Vagsheer”, the most recent of the France-designed Kalvari-class submarines made in India for the Indian Navy under a successful transfer of technology programme. This visit exemplifies France’s commitment to Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector and to Indo-French naval cooperation as a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific.
Source: Embassy of France in India