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French minister to visit India on Monday

French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius will come to India on a two-day visit on Monday. During the visit, he is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, signalling a relaxation of the visa ban imposed on him by the European Union (EU), following the Gujarat riots in 2002. It is likely the French minister might invite Modi to visit France this year.

Fabius’ visit will be the first by a senior representative of an EU country since the National Democratic Alliance government took charge at the Centre last month. Many see this visit as the stepping stone to a stable relationship between the new government and the EU. Among EU countries, France has always taken a neutral position, in terms of a stance on politics in India. Following the 2002 Gujarat riots, it was the first major EU country to extend an olive branch to Modi. During his address at the Vibrant Gujarat summit in 2012, French ambassador Francois Richier had expressed a desire to establish cultural ties with Gujarat.

Fabius will also meet his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh. On Tuesday, the French minister will travel to Mumbai, where he will meet Indian industry leaders.

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