Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday addressed the Indian community in France during the first phase of his three-nation tour, which will be followed by visits to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In a veiled reference to the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Modi said that there was no “provision for temporary” in his administration.

“We have a population of 125 crore, it’s the land of Gandhi and Buddha, Ram and Krishna,” the prime minister said in a speech at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris. “It took 70 years to remove ‘temporary’. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” The prime minister also listed out the work done by his newly formed government such as the triple talaq bill and claimed that the country would achieve its climate change goals in the next year-and-a-half.

“We did away with practice of triple talaq; injustice cannot be done to Muslim women in new India,” he said. “The country is moving fast on the path of development.”

Modi also said that New Delhi had fought imperialism, fascism and extremism not just in India but in France as well. “The character of the two countries is built on the shares values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,” he said.

In the last five years, Modi claimed India had eradicated several evil social practices, adding that a “campaign against looting of public money, nepotism and terrorism” was launched in the new India. The prime minister also said that the mandate given to him in the General Elections this year was “not just to run India but to create a new India”.

He further said that there had been many positive developments in the last five years during which the government worked towards programmes for the country’s youth, farmers, women and the underprivileged. Several studies had stated that poverty in India had been eradicated rapidly, Modi claimed. He also listed a “record number of bank accounts” that had been opened and the beneficiaries of the Prime Minister’s Central health scheme as significant achievements.

The address comes a day after the prime minister held a one-on-one meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. France conveyed to India that the Kashmir dispute must be resolved bilaterally without any interference from third parties.

Macron had also said that France would “remain attentive to ensure the interests and rights of the civilian populations are properly taken into account in the territories on both sides of the ceasefire line”. The one-on-one interaction was followed by delegation-level talks. India and France signed four memorandums of understanding after the meetings.

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