Modi in France: Prime Minister visits Airbus facility, pays homage to Indian soldiers

  • Agencies, Toulouse, France
  • Updated: Apr 24, 2015 10:21 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept up his hectic schedule on day two of his France tour, visiting the Airbus facility in Toulouse and also paying homage to the thousands of Indian soldiers killed during WWI at the Neuve Chapelle memorial.

A day after Modi held talks with French President Francois Hollande and both sides inked 17 agreements and also announced the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Prime Minister flew down to Toulouse in southern France.

Accompanied by French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Modi went around the Airbus A380 Assembly Line Facility.

Airbus Industrie has assured Modi that its Indian outsourcing will increase from $400 million to $2 billion over the next five years as part of the Indian government's Make in India initiative.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "500% increase in 5 years. @Airbus to PMA @narendramodi : Indian outsourcing to increase from $400 mil to $2 billion."

"Make in India gains further momentum. $2 billion cumulative outsourcing planned by @Airbus from India by 2020," he posted.

"Amazing visit to @Airbus Facility. They are very enthusiastic about @makeinindia initiative," the prime minister wrote on his twitter handle @narendramodi.

At the Airbus facility, the top brass gave Modi their assessment on the need for aircraft by Indian carriers. The country, they said, will require as many as 1,291 planes over the next 20 years -- 913 in single-aisle configuration, 322 twin-aisled and 56 large ones.

The Prime Minister was taken on the tour by a team led by Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders, who said his group was keen on forging a stronger industrial bond with India.

Modi also visited the French space agency CNES and went around the facility, He later posed for selfies with a bunch of Indian students waiting to meet him.

"We are very excited to meet the prime minister," a student said, waiting outside the CNES campus to meet Modi.

Modi, emerging from the CNES, posed for selfies with them as all the students raised their smartphones to click photographs with the prime minister.

"Took selfies with young friends at CNES. We were all trying to take the best selfie out there," Modi tweeted.

He later visited the Prefecture (Grande Salle, Palais National) in Toulouse where he met delegates and councillors.

He then went to Lille to pay homage at the Indian Memorial at the Neuve Chapelle that commemorates Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War I.

The Indian national anthem was played as the prime minister stood in silence in memory of the around 10,000 Indians who were killed in WWI.

Modi laid a wreath and went around the memorial looking at the names of the martyrs engraved on the walls.

"Remembering the services of the brave. PM @narendramodi at the Neuve Chappelle Memorial for Indian soldiers," Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman of the external affairs ministry tweeted.

The Prime Minister also gifted a replica of the Garhwal World War I memorial and a publication by Indian Diplomacy on India and the Great War at the memorial.

A number of Indian community members had gathered to greet Modi at the Neuve Chappelle.

Modi shook hands with the Indian nationals and together they raised the slogan of 'Shaheedon, Amar raho amar raho."

Modi also wrote in the visitor's book: "I am honoured to pay homage to the Indian soldiers here at the Indian Memorial at Neuve Chappelle. Our soldiers who fought in foreign lands in the Great War, have won the admiration of the world for dedication, loyalty, courage and sacrifice. I salute them."

He also expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the "excellent care and maintenance" of the monument and the French government for the solemn ceremony to pay tribute to the soldiers.

The memorial was designed by the celebrated British architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and unveiled by the Earl of Birkenhead on October 7, 1927.

The Prime Minister will be accorded a civic reception later by the Indian community in Paris and also meet with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

He flies to Germany on the second leg of his visit on Sunday.

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