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PM Modi's France And UAE Visit And Key Arenas To Look After #Geopolitics

Modi's visit to France marked his second high-profile appearance in a month, following his trip to the United States just three weeks prior. Similar to the warm reception he received in the US, France also went all out to greet him, with a ceremonial welcome at the airport and a special dinner hosted by the French President. The visit culminated in a grand state banquet held at the prestigious Louvre Museum, adding a touch of cultural significance to the diplomatic proceedings.

India and France share numerous similarities in their approach to foreign policy. Both countries prioritize strategic autonomy while maintaining autonomous foreign policies. India, despite Western pressure, continues to maintain robust ties with Moscow, while President Macron of France consciously cultivates relationships with both China and Russia, often swimming against the current of prevailing international sentiments. The striking parallels between their approaches present opportunities for collaboration, which is the central goal of Prime Minister Modi's visit: to establish deeper synergies with France and form a coalition free from the constraints of geopolitical factions.

The visit primarily focused on three key areas of collaboration: military cooperation, economic ties, and the ongoing Ukraine conflict. In terms of military collaboration, India expressed its intention to acquire 26 Rafale jets and three Scorpion helicopters, with the acquisition receiving approval from India's defense ministry. Additionally, discussions were held regarding a potential joint venture for aircraft engine manufacturing. French engine manufacturer Safran and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are actively exploring the development of a new engine to power fifth-generation fighters. This agreement mirrors a similar one reached between India and the United States the previous month. The French ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenae, acknowledged the strategic value of collaboration, as France considers itself an Indo-Pacific force, given its overseas territories, military presence in Djibouti, and cooperative naval patrols and surveillance flights with India in the Indian Ocean.

Economic cooperation was another significant aspect of Modi's visit to France. India aimed to introduce its successful Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to France, a payment mechanism widely used within India that has revolutionized digital payments. The plan is to extend its functionality to international money transfers. India has already reached an agreement with Singapore for fast, low-cost bank transfers and seeks to establish a similar arrangement with France. France, with its own digital payment system called Lyra, aims to connect its system with India's UPI, enabling seamless transactions between Indian and French banks. If successful, France will become the first European country to support UPI.

Lastly, the conflict in Ukraine emerged as a topic of concern for both Prime Minister Modi and President Macron. In an interview before his visit, Modi expressed his worries about the conflict and its consequences on the global South. President Macron also aims to engage with the global South and collaborate with organizations like BRICS, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, and China. Macron intends to attend the upcoming BRICS summit hosted by South Africa, although Russia has expressed opposition to his participation. The discussions between Modi and Macron before the summit, especially considering India's hosting of the G20 Nations later in the year, are expected to explore possibilities for collaboration. Modi emphasized India's potential as a bridge between the global South and the Western world, and he sees France as a promising starting point to develop this concept.

After concluding his visit to France, Prime Minister Modi paid a day-long visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He received a ceremonial guard of honor at the Qasr-Al-Wattan and engaged in bilateral talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, further strengthening the ties between the two nations. The discussions covered various bilateral and global issues, highlighting the dynamic transformation of the India-UAE relationship. Three significant Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were exchanged during the visit. The first MoU established a local currency settlement system between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central Bank of the UAE, facilitating the use of the Indian Rupee and UAE Dirham in cross-border transactions. The second MoU focused on interlinking payment and messaging systems, integrating India's Unified Payment Interface (UPI) with the UAE's Instant Payment platform (IPP), allowing for the acceptance and processing of domestic cards. Additionally, an MoU was signed for the establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Abu Dhabi, making it the first-ever IIT in the Middle East and North Africa region. Prime Minister Modi also highlighted India's efforts in addressing climate change through initiatives like Mission LIFE and emphasized sustainable development approaches.

Overall, Modi's visits to France and the UAE reflected his government's proactive approach in strengthening diplomatic ties, exploring areas of collaboration, and expanding India's global influence in both military and economic spheres. These visits provided opportunities for deepening partnerships, forging alliances, and fostering mutual understanding on various regional and global issues.

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