Chandigarh, Jan 24: India and France committed themselves to closer ties, especially in business and combating terrorism, just hours after French President Francois Hollande began his three-day visit to India here on Sunday and Prime Minister rendra Modi broke protocol to welcome him.
Addressing the India-France Business Summit, Modi said India and France had huge potential to work together in various fields.
Modi pitched for investment in India by French companies, saying India had a lot to offer in terms of skilled workforce and as a market for French products.
"We want to work closely with France... The world has accepted India as a good investment destition. India's talent and the manufacturing (skills) of France can achieve a lot. The trust and friendship with France is an asset for us," Modi said in his address.
"India is the fastest growing economy in the world. We have the labour and the market for your products," Modi said at the India-France chief executives meeting along with Hollande, according to a tweet by exterl affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup.
Hollande is to be chief guest at India's 67th Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Business and economic ties were a vital component of India-French ties. "Had a fruitful meeting with CEOs in Chandigarh," Modi tweeted, adding that he had met Hollande five times in the past year.
Sixteen agreements, including one to develop Chandigarh as a smart city, were signed.
"Defence, green economy, smart cities, infrastructure, transportation, water and fincial sector on the agenda of the Indo-French CEO's Forum," Vikas Swarup tweeted.
CEOs of 25 Indian and French companies attended the business summit.
Modi earlier received Hollande at the Rock Garden, after the president flew into the city created by French architect Le Corbusier to start his three-day official visit to India.
"Glad to welcome Hollande in the city built by the great Le Corbusier," Modi tweeted.
At the Rock Garden, Modi and Hollande greeted each other with a warm handshake and a hug on a wintry afternoon.
Both took a round of a section of the Rock Garden, which was created entirely from waste material by its founder Nek Chand.
They then proceeded towards the Capitol Complex, designed and built by Corbusier, and the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Sector 10.
Earlier, Hollande was received at the Chandigarh airport by Harya Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, Harya Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher besides senior officers.
"A warm welcome to Hollande. We are honoured and delighted to have him as chief guest for Republic Day celebrations," Modi said earlier. "We will build on the ground covered during our previous interactions."
Hollande was given a colourful welcome at the airport by 'Gidda' and 'Bhangra' dancers of Punjab.
The French president headed from the airport to Hotel Taj, where he stayed (in between) during his nearly six-hour stopover in the city.
Chandigarh was put under maximum security cover ahead of the arrival of the French president.