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PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris for talks and a “working dinner” on Wednesday evening, hoping to prise New Delhi away from Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

The two men embraced and posed for press photos as Modi arrived in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace, where he was also greeted by Macron’s wife Brigitte.

Macron would “emphasise the consequences of the war for the international order well beyond the European Union, including in Asia,” his office said ahead of the talks.

France wants to “help the Indians diversify their supply” away from Russian arms and energy, officials added.

The aim “is not to leave the Indians with no way out, but to offer solutions,” they said.

Ukraine on agenda as Indian PM Modi heads to Europe

After meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Monday as part of a European tour, Modi told reporters that “there won’t be any winners in this war and everyone will lose”.

India has so far avoided condemning the Russian invasion or voting to censure Moscow at the United Nations.

The Elysee said Macron has an “extremely warm relationship” with Modi, who has visited France three times since 2017, while the French leader went to India in 2018.

France has a “trusting relationship with India,” officials added, and hopes to build up the two countries’ “strategic partnership” in the Indo-Pacific.

Securing France’s place in the region is especially important after Britain, the United States and Australia last year sealed their AUKUS security pact – dumping a lucrative French contract to supply Canberra’s next generation of submarines along the way.

India has bought dozens of French Rafale fighter jets and six submarines, and cooperates with Paris on civil nuclear projects.

French state-owned energy giant EDF wants to build six next-generation EPR reactors in Jaitapur on India’s west coast.

The Elysee said it was pushing hard to get that deal signed, fitting in with Macron’s vow ahead of his re-election last month to renew France’s nuclear industry and replace its fleet of ageing power plants.

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