International Affairs



I have great pleasure in welcoming you to India and accepting the Letter of Credence from His Excellency Mr. Jacques Chirac, the President of the French Republic, accrediting you as the new Ambassador of France to India.

As a nation with well-established democratic institutions and traditions, we have been inspired by France's success in upholding these core values. We are particularly happy that our warm and unique relationship with France has been characterised by a new dynamism in recent years. Our ongoing high level political and strategic dialogue has been extremely rewarding. The commitment at the highest levels in both India and France, to the task of strengthening our multifaceted linkages is particularly noteworthy. It has in turn led to vibrant and very useful interactions spanning across various fields, including trade and commerce, science, energy, water resources, culture and education. Our association with France has also imparted a colourful imprint on our cultural mosaic.

Excellency, we recall with pleasure, the visits to India by your President, first as Prime Minister of France in 1976 and subsequently as President in January 1998, as Chief Guest at our Republic Day celebrations. President Chirac's visit was indeed an important landmark in the development of our bilateral relationship with France. It revealed a similarity of our views, with regard to the emerging global order, and also brought out the need to build a new partnership in consonance with our cherished values of liberty, equality and fraternity. Our Prime Minister's visit to France in September 1998 provided an opportunity to both countries to impart further depth to our relationship. My own visit to your great country was a most rewarding experience which provided us with the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to enriching our friendship, in a spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation. We look forward to receiving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, in the near future in order that we may consolidate our linkages even further.

The diverse bilateral initiatives undertaken by our two countries in recent years have indeed paid rich dividends. I would like to particularly mention the achievements of the Indo-French Forum, the Indo-French Strategic Dialogue and the Joint High Committee for Defence Co-operation, which have led to useful exchanges in various fields. Our discussions under the framework of the Strategic Dialogue have been especially useful and have enabled us to understand each other's views on issues of bilateral and multilateral importance. In addition, the Joint Working Groups in the areas of energy and telecommunications have also resulted in mutually beneficial co-operation.

Excellency, our economic linkages in terms of trade and investment, have grown stronger in recent years. Yet, we must work together to improve our commercial relationship. French expertise and technology in areas such as energy, surface transport, communications, water resource management, environment, agriculture, food processing etc., would be useful for India's developmental needs. We would welcome a long-term commitment from French companies in the Indian economy. I would particularly like to highlight our information technology sector in which we have performed impressively and which could become an engine of our economic growth. We invite French companies and entrepreneurs to explore possibilities of upgrading bilateral interaction in this area.

One of the most important factors, which has cemented our ties in the last couple of years, is our belief that both India and France will be important players in the multipolar world. We share with France, a vision of a pluralistic world order in which there would be co-operation rather than confrontation between countries and which would see true multilateralism in international relations. Indeed, we believe that the new, strategic partnership which we seek to build with France, is in keeping with this shared vision. The process of European unity, which has been evolving over the last few years, is extremely significant in this context. With the launch of the Euro and the steps towards a Common Foreign and Security Policy, Europe has taken major strides towards becoming a power to reckon with in the world. As an influential voice in and crucial member of the European Union, we look upon France as an important partner for India within the European Union.

Excellency, our belief in the need for an equitable and participatory world order, leads us to seek the restructuring and strengthening of the United Nations so as to make it more representative, credible and effective. Our candidature for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, is a logical and legitimate corollary of this requirement. Our contributions to the United Nations system are well documented and we are convinced of our ability to play a significant role in the restructured UN. We have been very encouraged by the consistent support which we have received from France, at the highest levels, for our permanent candidature to the UN Security Council.

Excellency, we believe that in an increasingly interdependent world, trade relations between nations must be governed by internationally accepted rules. This belief is reflected in our continuing support for the multilateral trading system and in our membership of the WTO. We are however, concerned with the prevalence of protectionist tendencies, which vitiate the atmosphere of multilateral free trade. We seek the co-operation and understanding of France in our efforts to establish a non-discriminatory, fair and equitable multilateral trading system.

Excellency, fundamentalism and international terrorism is another challenge to our mutual desire for ensuring peace and stability in our respective regions. We appreciate the support which we have received most recently from the European Union, and also from France in our efforts to combat this menace. We would also welcome the support of France for our draft Convention for Combating International Terrorism which will be discussed at the UN General Assembly in September this year.

Excellency, we value our relationship with France and hope that we can consolidate our relationship in the coming years through further initiatives in both the bilateral and multilateral spheres. I wish you a successful and pleasant tenure in India. I also assure you of the fullest co-operation of my Government in the performance of your duties.

Thank you

Jai Hind