Monday, April 28, 2008

French Consulate in Bangalore by year-end

French Consulate in Bangalore by year-end

Staff Reporter

‘It will cater to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh’

Bangalore: Bangalore will have a French Consulate by the end of the year, to cater to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Besides issuing visas, it will focus on trade relations.

The Consul-General will serve as a diplomat as well as trade commissioner, Jerome Bonnafont, French Ambassador to India, told presspersons here on Friday during his visit to the city to attend “Bangalore Bio 2008”. The event had a strong French presence with 20 delegates and 15 companies participating.

“The ‘mixed’ Consul-General will be chosen from the Finance Ministry and not from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as is normally done, so as to ensure that he or she is an expert in export, investment and business,” Mr. Bonnafont said.

The Ambassador, who visited WIPRO and the Indian Space Research Organisation, described Bangalore as the “capital of the future” with its expertise in sectors such as biotechnology, Information Technology, aerospace and aeronautics, which are “core focus areas” for cooperation between India and France.

Mr. Bonnafont said that he envisaged a greater role for Alliance Francaise in encouraging Indian students to study in France. “We have an insufficient number of Indian students in France. Of the 2.5 lakh foreign students in France, only 1,200 are Indians,” he said. A new body called the ‘Consortium of French and Indian Universities’ has been set up to encourage an exchange of students, professors and semesters between the universities,” he said.

Trade between the countries has reached € 6 billion in 2007, and the target was to double these exchanges by 2012, he said.

On the nuclear deal, Mr. Bonnafont said that if India decided to go ahead with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it would open the doors for cooperation between India and France in scientific and industrial sectors. The deal would be entirely civilian, and military would be 100 percent excluded,” he said.


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