Chirac leaves on state visits to Thailand, India
French President left Paris for Bangkok, travelling with a high-level delegation on the first step of an Asian tour.india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 09:45 IST
French President Jacques Chirac left Paris for Bangkok on Friday, travelling with a high-level delegation on the first step of an Asian tour.
The French President will also travel to India, his office said.
Chirac is accompanied by his wife Bernadette, the French ministers for foreign affairs, defence, economy, external trade and tourism, and representatives of around 30 major French companies.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday welcomed Chirac's visit -- the first by a French president -- as "historic".
Shinawatra also called for more French investment in his country.
The French government wants to use the trip to boost economic ties and bilateral trade, with summits in Bangkok and New Delhi to bring together French and local political and business leaders.
Chirac has struck an embarrassing item from the agenda of talks in New Delhi, by ordering the Clemenceau home after its transfer to India for scrapping was blocked by a French court.
A second thorny issue remains, however, on the economic front: the contested bid by Mittal Steel, for its rival Arcelor.
The French delegation is to leave Bangkok on Sunday for New Delhi, returning on Tuesday to France.