Honoured to be chief guest at India's Republic Day function: Hollande

After a ceremonial welcome, French President paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.

New Delhi: French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday made common cause with India on the issue of fighting terrorism, underlining that the purpose of his visit was to "reinforce and strengthen" the cooperation between the two countries to tackle the menace.

Hollande, who is on a three-day visit to India, praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for playing an "important" role in Paris COP21 and said that the two countries are going to "follow up" on all decisions on the climate change front as well as areas of economic cooperation.

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The French President, who will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations tomorrow, made the remarks at Rashtrapati Bhawan where he was accorded a ceremonial welcome in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee and Modi.

"There are all kinds of threats that are hovering around countries such as India and France and one of the main aims behind my visit is to reinforce and strengthen the cooperation against terrorism between our two countries," Hollande, who was flanked by Mukherjee, said.

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"Once again it underlines our shared values that we aim to protect and also represent across the world. We are going to follow up on all the decisions that were taken at the COP21 as far as action against climate change is concerned but in addition to that we will be further strengthening our economic relations in all areas from agriculture to space.

"These are areas which are of interest and there is immense cooperation between our two countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi played a very important role in the success of COP21," Hollande said.

The French President also paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi by placing a wreath at the memorial of the Father of the Nation at Rajghat this morning.

The French President was earlier accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourts of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Later, responding to a query on ISIS, Hollande affirmed that France will not be "deterred" by any kind of threat of terrorism and that it will always protect the "values" for which it stands.

"France will not be deterred by any kind of threat of terrorism. We will take measures that are required to protect democracy and therefore the decision that was taken to extend the period of emergency in France so that we can take all necessary measures," he said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Hollande and they discussed bilateral issues including nuclear and defence cooperation.

"Swaraj called on President Hollande. Discussions covered defence, nuclear cooperation, space, environment, climate change and cooperation in solar energy," official sources said.

Hollande had arrived in Chandigarh on Sunday, where he attended a business meet and visited some landmarks.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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