Smriti Irani conveys Indian solidarity with France

India on Tuesday expressed solidarity with the people and government of France as Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani attended a major UNESCO forum here, days after the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Irani also placed a wreath at the Bataclan Theatre in honour of those who lost their lives in Friday’s deadly attacks which killed 129 people in Paris. She is the first senior India leader to have visited France after the Paris terror attacks.

Irani conveyed India’s solidarity with the French people and government in the wake of the attacks in Paris, in her address to the Leaders’ Forum at the UNESCO headquarters here. An official statement by the ministry said that Irani also reaffirmed India’s commitment to the ideals of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and recalled the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who in 1947 had expressed deep Indian interest in the organisation’s efforts to secure peace through educational and cultural activities.

Irani is on an official visit to the UNESCO headquarters. Her visit is coinciding with the ongoing 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference as well as the 70th anniversary celebrations of UNESCO. She also highlighted recent pioneering initiatives on education undertaken by the Indian government. She said India’s efforts are aimed at opening the windows of opportunity of education to all its citizens.

To this end, India offered to partner with UNESCO towards collaborative knowledge sharing, which would assist all countries in their efforts towards achieving Agenda 2030 in a timely manner, the statement said. The minister also held a meeting with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and discussed the full range of India’s cooperation with the organisation.

She also paid homage at the statue of Shri Aurobindo located in the Japanese garden at UNESCO headquarters. Several heads of state and government are attending the forum which will also see an intervention by President Francois Hollande of host country France, the statement said.