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France: EU parliament urges PM Modi to protect minorities

July 13, 2023

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in France for a two-day visit where he will hold wide-ranging talks with President Emmanuel Macron. The European Parliament has called on Modi to end violence in Manipur.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves as he arrives at the Paris-Orly Airport
Modi's visit to France comes as the two countries seek closer relations amid China's rising global influenceImage: Bertrand Guay/AP Photo/picture alliance

The European Parliament on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do more to protect ethnic and religious minorities in India. 

Modi began a two-day visit to France focused on defense ties, where he will attend the traditional Bastille Day military parade as guest of honor.

But between the ceremony and diplomatic courting, EU parliamentarians in Strasbourg approved a motion that urged India to end violence in the country's northeastern Manipur state and protect minorities there. 

The communal violence that erupted between two ethnic groups in Manipur has left at least 120 people dead and 50,000 displaced, the parliament said. 

It also criticized the "national rhetoric" of the local state government, run by Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Despite differences over the war in Ukraine and tensions over human rights in India, Western democracies are courting Modi and the world's most populous country as a counterweight to China in Asia.

"India is one of the pillars of our Indo-Pacific strategy," an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron told journalists this week on condition of anonymity, news agency AFP reported. 

Macron will also treat Modi to a lavish dinner at the Louvre museum on Friday evening. 

India-France military ties to take center stage

Macron has made Modi guest of honor for the July 14 military parade, with the participation of Indian troops and Indian-flown-French made fighter jets underlining close defense ties.

 France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne greets India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Modi was greeted by French PM Elisabeth Borne after his arrivalImage: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Meanwhile, India has approved in principle the purchase of 26 French marine Rafale jets and three Scorpene-class submarines, news agency ANI reported.  

The Indian government did not provide any cost figures, saying the prices are yet to be negotiated. 

India is one of the biggest buyers of French arms. 

During Modi's last visit to Paris in 2015, he announced a landmark deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets worth around €4 billion ($4.48 billion).

Modi: India and France 'are naturally compatible'

Modi has visited France four times since Macron came to power in 2017, while Macron was honored with a state visit to New Delhi in 2018.

The bilateral trade between the nations had doubled in the last nine years and Macron's "thinking really matches ours,” Modi told French newspaper Les Echos.

India and France "are naturally compatible" and "we see France as one of our foremost global partners," Modi added.

ara/wd (AFP, Reuters)