NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to Paris in the coming months for what could be the one-time pariah’s first trip to Europe since his election, France’s top diplomat said Thursday.
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told AFP during a visit to New Delhi that the Indian premier had been invited to a summit with President Francois Hollande “in the spring”.
“We will be extremely happy to welcome Mr. Modi and that is one of the messages that I have come to pass on from the president,” said Fabius ahead of talks with Modi.
“We shall be very honoured to welcome him.”
Although there have been reports that Modi is planning to travel to Britain and Germany, this is the first firm invitation to Europe since he was elected last May.
Modi was effectively blacklisted by the European Union for a decade in the aftermath of deadly communal riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002, soon after he came to power as chief minister.
The EU and then the United States ended their boycott of the right-wing Hindu nationalist when it became clear he could be elected leader of the world’s largest democracy.
France and India have a strategic partnership and Fabius said the two leaders would have much to discuss in Paris, including nuclear energy and aviation technology on which the countries are already working closely.
“This will be an extremely important visit for us and India,” he said.