Defence, n-power will dominate Sarkozy’s India visit

By Ranivr Nayar, IANS
Thursday, December 2, 2010

PARIS - Accompanied by as many as seven of his key ministers, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will land in Bangalore Saturday morning at the start of a packed four-day India visit that is expected to be dominated by the issues of defence, nuclear power, sustainable development and culture and will take him across four cities.

Sarkozy will also be accompanied by a business delegation carrying some of the heavyweights of French industry as well as a large press troupe. His wife, Carla Bruni, will also accompany the president on this visit.

The ministers accompanying Sarkozy are Defence Minister Alain Juppe, Foreign Affairs Minister Michele Alliot Marie, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, Ecology, Transport and Housing Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Higher Education and Research Minister Valrie Pecresse, Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire and Culture Minister Frdric Mitterrand.

The much-awaited defence acquisition programme of the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force will be high on the agenda of discussions in New Delhi, while Lagarde and other ministers will push for greater business between the two countries in various sectors of the economy.

Sarkozy will kick off his trip Saturday with a visit to the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s offices in Bangalore where there will be a presentation on the Indo-French meteorological satellite, Megha-Tropiques.

On Dec 5, Sarkozy is expected to finally visit the Taj Mahal in Agra with wife Carla-Bruni Sarkozy and will reach Delhi in the evening when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosts a private dinner for the visiting first couple at his residence.

On Dec 6, Sarkozy will hold bilateral discussions with Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House and the 90-minute talks are expected to end with the signing of several agreements between India and France in various domains. The two will also address a joint press conference and this will be followed by a working lunch.

In the evening, Sarkozy will be received by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan after which Sarkozy will attend a reception by the French community of Delhi at the French embassy here.

On Dec 7 morning Sarkozy will leave for Mumbai where he will first visit the Mumbai Police Memorial in memory of the victims of the 2008 terror attacks. He will also address a ceremony being organised at the Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai in the presence of the families of the French victims of the attack and local personalities from Mumbai. On this occasion, Sarkozy will also confer French honours on Devendra Bharma, executive vice-president of the Oberoi, and Karambir Kang, general manager of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel.

Sarkozy will head to the Taj Mahal hotel to deliver the valedictory address at the Indo-French Business Meet which is expected to be attended by over 300 business leaders from both the sides. Sarkozy will leave for Paris the same afternoon.

(Ranvir Nayar can be contacted at [email protected])

Filed under: Diplomacy

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