Jul 14, 2023, 6:45am EDT

What to know: Modi honored on France’s Bastille Day as Delhi-Paris ties deepen

French President Emmanuel Macron embraces Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he welcomes him at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, July 13, 2023. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

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The News

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a guest of honor at France’s annual Bastille Day celebrations, where he said relations between the two countries are in “excellent shape.”

It’s the Indian leader’s fourth visit to France since 2017, marking 25 years of New Delhi and Paris’s “strategic partnership.”

We’ve collected key insights on why India and France are further strengthening their long-standing relationship.

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  • India is not only a key diplomatic partner for France, but also a means for Paris to reduce its reliance on U.S. security. French President Emmanuel Macron has “courted” New Delhi, Christophe Jaffrelot, research director at Sciences Po in Paris, told the Financial Times. “For India and France, at a time when China is expanding its influence in this part of the world, to join hands makes a lot of sense.”
  • The bilateral talks highlight what India can offer Europe, security scholar C. Raja Mohan writes. “Intense and wide-ranging defence cooperation between India and France today could contribute immensely to Eurasian security this century,” Mohan notes, adding that India has a “rare incentive” to reexamine its relationship with Europe following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. — The Indian Express
  • Paris has so far turned the other cheek when it comes to condemning alleged human rights abuses by Modi’s government. Advocacy group Human Rights Watch noted earlier this week that it was “deeply worrying” that Macron would mark Bastille Day — France’s celebration of civil liberty and freedoms — with the leader of a country where Muslims are being persecuted by Hindu-nationalist groups. French newspaper Le Parisien suggests diplomatic forces can explain the deferential treatment: The two countries want to present themselves as a balance of power in the current geopolitical climate. (French-language links).
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Ahead of the Bastille parade India gave initial approval to buy an extra 26 Rafale fighter jets and three Scorpene class submarines from France, Reuters reported.

The deal will help Paris maintain its presence in the Indo-Pacific, at a time when tensions with China are high and still rising.