Foreign Secy Briefs On Key Collaborations

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra Friday said that a comprehensive defence roadmap between India and France has been finalised focusing on identifying “opportunities within the defence-industrial sector”. The roadmap was finalised during a bilateral meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Macron, who was the chief guest for India’s 75th Republic Day celebrations, arrived in Jaipur on Thursday, where he did a tour of the city with PM Modi visiting several iconic places there.

“The two countries have agreed to adopt a defence production roadmap. Now, the name itself is obvious that the focus on the priority of defence cooperation through this roadmap is to identify opportunities for partnership in the defence industrial sector that prioritise co-designing, co-development, co-production and also building the defence supply chains between the two countries so that they can not only fulfil the defence needs of India and France but also can be a useful contributor to the security partnership with other countries who might be in use of similar products,” Kwatra said at a press conference. 

During Macron’s visit, the foreign ministers of both countries engaged in discussions, reinforcing the strategic partnership. Kwatra futher highlighted the collaborative efforts in establishing the Indian consulate in Marseille and the French bureau in Hyderabad, both now fully operational.

A notable announcement involved the creation of a solar academy in Senegal under the Star Sea program of the International Solar Alliance, initiated jointly by India and France in 2015. The nations also affirmed their commitment to mutual support in international forums, including India’s endorsement of France’s candidacy to the International Energy Agency.

Kwatra said: “These are the documents which have been agreed upon. Roadmap on the India-France Defence Industrial Roadmap. Second-an agreement on Defence space partnership. Third- an MoU between New Space India Limited (NSIL) and Arianespace with regard to satellite launches.”

“An industrial partnership between Tata and Airbus helicopters for the production of H125 helicopters with a significant indigenous and localization component. Agreement between Department of Science and Technology… Also an agreement between two ministries of health on healthcare cooperation, education, training and research. This would include the space of digital health and use of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector…It’s been agreed that the year 2026 will be celebrated as India-France year of innovation,” the Foreign Secretary added further. 

Key agreements between India and France were highlighted, encompassing defence industrial cooperation, defence space partnership, satellite launches, healthcare cooperation, education, training, and research. The year 2026 was designated as the India-France Year of Innovation, emphasising “collaborative efforts in various fields”.

‘Focus Is The Frame Of Reference We Look At It’: Kwatra On Govt Issuing Notice To French Journalist

Responding to questions about a notice issued to French journalist Vanessa Dougnac, Kwatra said that the matter’s frame of reference: is compliance with rules and regulations. He clarified that the focus is on adherence to the country’s guidelines, ensuring that individuals are compliant with the established norms.

“We are aware of the matter. This matter is being dealt with by the relevant department in the Government of India. And I think the key element in this focus is the frame of reference in which we look at it. And the frame of reference to look at is the compliance with the rules and regulations of the country. I don’t think this has got anything else to do with the other aspects of journalism, et cetera.”

“People are free to do what they are accredited to do in a given space. But here I think the principal issue is whether the person is compliant with the rules and regulations,” Kwatra said. 

The Indian government issued a notice to Dougnac, raising questions about her Overseas Citizen of India card due to perceived biases in her journalistic work. The notice alleges that her activities are creating a negative perception of India, provoking disorder, and disturbing peace. In response, Dougnac asserted her love and respect for India, denying any engagement in prejudicial acts against Indian interests. She expressed readiness to cooperate with the ongoing legal process and urged respect for her privacy during this period. 

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