French President accorded ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan

Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande, who is on a two-day state visit to India, was given a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here this morning.

He was received by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. He inspected the guard of honour and also met members of the Indian Cabinet.

The visiting President said it was a great honour for him to visit India and thanked his Indian counterpart for extending a warm welcome to him.

"It's a great honour for me to be visiting India. I thank you (Pranab Mukherjee) President for this welcome. I am sure that this visit will lay our relationship at the best level we can hope. And we must always improve the relationship between our two countries. India is a great democracy," Hollande told media here.

During his visit, Hollande is expected to hold delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid besides calling on United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.

On February 15, Hollande will deliver a lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti House. Following that, he will honour Nobel laureate and renowned economist Amartya Sen with Commandeur de la legion Honneur.

Thereafter, the French President will visit Mumbai, where he will have a meeting with the Governor of Maharashtra and participate in a business conference.

An official press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said relations between the two countries had been laid on strong historical foundations and shared values.

With upgradation of the relationship to strategic partnership in 1998, the relationship has become multifaceted and symbiotic in areas such as defence, civil nuclear energy, space and counter terrorism.

There have been regular high-level exchanges at the Head of State/Head of Government levels. Most recently, Salman Khurshid had visited France to have talks with his counterpart, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, last month.

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