June 3, 2017 / 5:08 AM / 3 months ago

France, India to cooperate in fighting climate change

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday their countries would cooperate in the fight against climate change, just days after the U.S. withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.

Modi, whose country is the world's third-biggest emissions generator, said in Russia on Friday that he would continue to back the deal and Macron has said the 2015 Paris agreement is irreversible despite U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw.

"The protection of the environment and the mother planet is an article of faith," Modi said at a joint news conference with Macron in Paris.

The two leaders, who met for the first time, announced no contracts or new initiatives.

"We are both convinced that our countries have to do a lot for the ecological and environmental transition and the fight against global warming," Macron said, adding that France would go above and beyond its Paris agreement commitments.

He said he planned a visit to India before year-end for a first summit of the International Solar Alliance, an initiative launched by New Delhi and Paris during the Paris climate talks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) says goodbye to French President Emmanuel Macron after a ceremeny at the Arc de Triomphe on the last leg of his four-nation visit in Paris, France, June 3, 2017.Charles Platiau

Macron said the alliance will lead to concrete measures in favour of solar energy and commit the companies of both nations.

The alliance seeks to mobilise more than a trillion dollars by 2030 and bring together well over 100 solar-rich countries to deliver solar energy to some of the planet's poorest.

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The two leaders said they had also discussed how to combat terrorism and that they would work on concrete initiatives before the end of the year to fight terrorism on the internet.

Ties between the two countries have grown in recent years most notably in the defence sector with New Delhi ordering 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets.

The two countries are also in talks about nuclear power and French utility EDF in Jan. 2016 signed a preliminary pact to build six Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Jaitapur, on India's western coast.

But last month, India's cabinet approved plans to build 10 reactors of indigenous Indian design and said that India will not buy foreign reactors unless these reactors are already in operation.

Four EPRs are under construction in France, Finland and China, but all are years behind schedule and not a single EPR is in operation yet.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Ralph Boulton

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