French minister braves Covid for India ties

3 weeks ago 32
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NEW DELHI: The foreign minister of France, Yves Le Drian, has braved India’s Covid surge to arrive here for in-person meetings with his counterpart S Jaishankar in a bilateral visit spanning four days.
Le Drian will hold formal talks with Jaishankar on Tuesday and call on PM Narendra Modi in the evening. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who was here last week, did not get to meet the PM. Modi is supposed to make a bilateral visit to Paris after the India-Europe summit at Porto on May 8.
However, given the current Covid situation in the country, there is a rethink about whether the PM will actually go to Europe next month. It should be remembered that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had cancelled his India trip for Republic Day due to the rapid rise in Covid cases there. There is also another Covid surge in Europe, which might make the summit more fraught. Modi is expected to meet all 27 heads of government at Porto informal summit. At this point, the ministry of external affairs appears more comfortable with incoming visits than outgoing ones.
Le Drian is also one of the prime speakers at the virtual Raisina Dialogue and participate in a discussion with Jaishankar and Australian foreign minister Marise Payne on “multilateralism in the Indo-Pacific region”. He will travel to Bengaluru to meet Indian business groups and meet the tech community there, to urge joint startups with French entities.
A statement from the French embassy said, “...talks will cover all aspects of the bilateral strategic partnership, joint initiatives in the Indo-Pacific, regional and global issues of common interest, and cooperation in the United Nations Security Council, where India currently sits as an elected member.” Johnson is scheduled to visit India on April 26, a visit that is regarded as being very important by both sides, as both countries enter into a new and improved relationship post Brexit.

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