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PM Modi meets French President on sidelines of G20 in Rome

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Rome, Italy.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval were also present at the meeting.

This is the first in-person meeting between the two leaders after Aukus trilateral security pact was announced. The two leaders last spoke in September and discussed regional issues including recent developments in Afghanistan.

During the phone call last month, they reviewed the increasing bilateral collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region and the important role that the India-France partnership plays in promoting stability and security in the region.

PM Narendra Modi arrived in Italy on Friday to participate in the two-day Summit.

Earlier today, PM Modi met with Pope Francis and discussed a wide range of issues with him. He also invited Pope to India.

Prime Minister Modi today is scheduled to have a meeting with the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo. PM Modi is also expected to have a meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hosein Loong as well.

In the evening, Prime Minister is scheduled to arrive at Terme di Diocleziano for a cultural program. Later, there is a dinner planned for G20 leaders and partner countries.

Briefing about the Prime Minister’s engagements in Italy, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday said that PM Modi will discuss the global economic situation, COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable development and climate change with G20 leaders.

On Friday, PM Modi met with top European Union leaders and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. They congratulated Prime Minister Modi for India’s excellent progress on the COVID-19 vaccination.

Prime Minister also interacted with members of the Indian community-based in Italy and those who have a close association with India through spheres like academics, spirituality and more. PM Modi will be in the capital city of Italy till October 31.

PM says India firm on environment commitment while carrying on its development agenda

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for support from developed countries on extending finance and technology to prepare other nations for sustainable growth, saying India intends to achieve its sustainable development objectives on its own but “developed world can help us achieve them faster”.

“Our development needs are enormous. Our poverty or prosperity will have direct impact on global poverty or prosperity. People in India have waited too long for access to modern amenities and means of development”, he said while delivering his inaugural address at the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS), organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Reiterating India’s commitment to protect the environment while carrying on its development agenda, the Prime Minister listed everything India has been doing on the clean energy front and expressed his confidence in meeting the country’s commitment under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“We are also on track to meet the 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution…While we are doing everything that is required of us, we expect that others also join in to fulfil their commitments based on Common but Differentiated Responsibility and equity”, said Modi — a clear hint at historical polluters’ (rich nations) responsibility to play a bigger role in saving the planet from disastrous consequences of global warming.

He also announced on the occasion, the country’s plan to host the 2018 World Environment Day (June 5), saying it highlighted “our commitment and our continuing partnership to make the world a cleaner place”.

Emphasising on collaborative approach to fight the challenges of climate change, he said, “Successful climate action needs access to financial resources and technology. Technology can help countries like India develop sustainably and enable the poor to benefit from it.”

The Prime Minister also referred to India’s efforts to bring as many as 121 countries on board for moving towards renewable energy path through the International Solar Alliance (ISA) – a joint India-France initiative which was launched by both the countries in Paris on November 30, 2015.

The first global summit of the Alliance, which had become an inter-governmental legal entity in December last year, will take place in New Delhi on March 11. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to join the summit.

The WSDS has been a flagship annual event of TERI since 2001. It is a global forum that seeks to provide long-term solutions to all stakeholders for protecting environment through sustainable and collaborative approach.

‘Solar alliance must be agile, results-oriented’

French minister of state for ecological and inclusive transition, Brune Poirson, is set to co-chair on Wednesday the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). In an interview to Vishwa Mohan, she responded to questions on range of issues relating to solar energy and climate change. Excerpts:

Q. How would the first Assembly of the ISA drive the solar rich nations towards the global renewable energy goal?
It is an opportunity to set high standards for the ISA’s governance and working methods. The ISA must be agile, transparent, efficient, and results-oriented. Its missions necessitate strong leadership and an inclusive approach towards all stakeholders. Adopting clear, transparent and efficient procedures and work programmes is a prerequisite for meeting the ambitious goal of the Alliance: mobilizing $1000 billion and installing 1 TW (terrawatt) by 2030. France is fully committed to facilitate and support initiatives that would help meet these goals.

Q. How would France contribute towards it in terms of finance, technology and extending other supports?
As President Emmanuel Macron announced last March, the French Development Agency has pledged to invest more than 1 billion euros in solar energy projects in ISA countries between 2016 and 2022. I am happy to announce that, to date, more than 800 million euros have already been committed for 34 projects in 23 countries. We will continue to support ISA countries in identifying and financing new projects.

The French private sector is also deeply committed to the ISA. Together with their Indian partners, these French business organizations have established a dedicated private sector body to interact with, inform and advise ISA officials for the organisation’s activities.

Q. Are the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) pledges under the Paris Agreement enough to face the challenges of climate change?
To date, NDC pledges under the Paris Agreement are clearly not sufficient to meet the 2°C target as they would lead to an increase of mean temperature of 3 to 4°C. We’ve known this since the COP21 when these pledges were made. That is why the Paris Agreement anticipates the necessity for each review of NDC to enhance the ambition. This is a ratcheting up process that might eventually drive collective efforts towards the 2°C target.

Q. What more can be done to keep the global temperature rise within 2 degree Celsius and make efforts towards 1.5 degree Celsius goal as pledged under the Paris Agreement?
Once the electricity sector is fully decarbonized, essentially two key emitting sectors will remain: transportation and agriculture. It will require major technological breakthrough to make zero-emission vehicles affordable and profound changes in the farming process. Note that land use will be critical to provide the negative emissions we need to be net zero as soon as possible. This is the only credible GHG sink we have.

Q. Has the US move to withdraw from the Paris Agreement affected the progress towards its implementation?
The US withdrawal is clearly not neutral on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In fact, it could have blocked the progress of some countries and critically undermines our collective ability to reach its goal. That is why President Macron decided to launch the One Planet Summit, to address this rise of climate scepticism with action. Action and massive redirection of financial flows toward low-carbon opportunities are the best answer to preserve the 2015 Paris Agreement momentum. Action makes its implementation irreversible. This irreversibility was clearly reaffirmed by all the leaders who participated in the OPS last week in New York.

Q. Pre-2020 actions of developed countries and their low financial contribution under GCF are still the major sticking points. Do you think the countries will finalise the rules for implementation of Paris Agreement without resolving those issues at COP24 in Poland?
A. Action against climate change is required urgently. That is why the EU and its member States have exceeded their 2020 target and intend to increase their efforts. Financing for climate action is crucial. It is essential that the GCF succeeds and that its next Board in October approves new projects, paving the way to its replenishment. To accelerate action, President Macron convened the One Planet Summit and additional commitments were made last week in New York. As for the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement, they will enable us to fully implement the Agreement and guide our action. We must therefore adopt them at COP24. We have to fight on all fronts at the same time: action, finance, rules.

Amazon, Apple stay away from new French initiative to set principles for Big Tech

PARIS: U.S. tech giants Amazon and Apple have not signed up to a new French initiative to get global tech companies to publicly commit to principles including paying their fair share of taxes, government officials said on Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has sought for the past three years to cajole tech giants into collaborating with governments on a series of global challenges such as fighting hate speech online, preserving privacy or contributing to state coffers.

Amid a public outcry about technology groups’ good fortunes during the coronavirus pandemic this year, Macron’s advisers said on Monday that the president had asked tech companies to sign up to a new initiative called “Tech for Good Call” underlining principles for the post-COVID world.

The French government released a list of 75 executives of tech companies that had signed up to the initiative so far, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft President Brad Smith. Apple and Amazon were notably absent from the list.

Apple declined to comment, but French officials said talks with the group were ongoing and they could still join the initiative, details of which will be published officially by Tuesday. A representative for Amazon, which French officials said had declined to join the initiative, did not return a request for comment.

“The goal is also to… observe objectively those who decide to play ball and align their interest with inpiduals and societies and those who stay out of this joint movement,” a presidential adviser told a press briefing.

Leading tech executives such as Facebook’s Zuckerberg attended the so-called “Tech for Good” summit hosted by the French president at the Elysee Palace in 2018, which gave birth to working groups on issues that have become sources of tension between governments and “Big Tech”.

The new initiative is not legally binding, but French officials said Macron will use it as a tool to influence upcoming negotiations at global forums on regulating Big Tech.

The U.S. and European governments have clashed over the issue of taxing Big Tech during talks at the OECD.

Signatories to the “Tech for Good Call” commit to “contribute fairly to the taxes in countries where (they) operate”; prevent the dissemination of “child sexual abuse material, terrorist or extreme violence online contents”; and “support the ecological transition”, among other things.

EU, China leaders seal long-awaited investment deal

Top European Union officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded a business investment deal on Wednesday that will open big opportunities to European companies, but has the potential to irk the new American administration.

Amid concerns about the human rights situation in China, the EU said the seven-year-long negotiations were concluded in “principle” during a video-conference involving Xi, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council president Charles Michel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU – and French president Emmanuel Macron also took part in the discussions with the Chinese president, the EU said.

“We are open for business but we are attached to reciprocity, level playing field and values,” von der Leyen said.

The video-conference launches a ratification process that will take several months. To enter into force, the agreement will need to be ratified by the European Parliament, and the issue of human rights could be a sticking point.

According to EU figures, China is now the bloc’s second-biggest trading partner behind the United States, and the EU is China’s biggest trading partner.

China and Europe trade on average over 1 billion euro a day.

According to the EU, the deal was brokered after China committed to pursue ratification of the International Labour Organisation‘s rules on forced labour.

On Tuesday, the EU expressed concerns about “the restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists, as well as detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals in China.”

The EU hopes the agreement, known as CAI, will help correct an imbalance in market access and create new investment opportunities for European companies in China by ensuring they can compete on an equal footing when operating in the country.

The 27-nation bloc said the agreement is the most ambitious that China has ever agreed with a third country and will give additional access to many areas, including the electric cars and hybrid vehicles sector, as well as private hospitals, telecoms and cloud services.

But it has the potential to cause tension with the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden only weeks after the EU proposed a trans-Atlantic dialogue to address “the strategic challenge presented by China’s growing international assertiveness”.

The EU, however, said the investment agreement will give the EU the same level of market access in China that the United States has and insisted that the deal will benefit other trading partners by getting China to commit to high standards of conduct.

The EU previously said the agreement, which includes provisions for settling disputes, should increase the transparency of Chinese state subsidies and make sustainable development a key element of the relationship between the EU and China.

The deal also includes clear rules against the forced transfer of technologies, a practice in which a government requires foreign investors to share their technology in exchange for market access.

Emmanuel Macron announces 30-billion-euro plan to re-industrialise France

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced a plan worth 30 billion euros ($35 billion) to re-industrialise France on the basis of innovative and green-friendly technologies including electric cars, hydrogen fuel and efficient nuclear plants.

Six months before a presidential election and one month ahead of a UN climate summit, Macron said France had taken key decisions “15-20 years later than some of our European neighbours” and now needed “to become a nation of innovation and research again”.

The spending was to address “a kind of growth deficit” for France brought on by insufficient investment in the past, he told an audience of company leaders and university students at the Elysee Palace.

France, he said, needed to return to “a virtuous cycle” which consisted of “innovating, producing and exporting and in that way finance our social model” as part of a new “France 2030” plan.

Over the next decade, France would aim to become a global leader in green hydrogen, which companies and governments are increasingly putting at the centre of efforts to de-carbonise economic sectors that rely most on fossil fuels for their energy needs.

France would get two electrolysis giga-factories for hydrogen production, as part of eight billion euros of investment in the energy sector.

He said that following the Covid-19 pandemic, “which put us face to face with our vulnerabilities”, France had to work towards French and European productive autonomy.

France also needed to invest heavily in medical research, Macron said.

After the global Covid-19 outbreak, French pharma giants were unable to come up with a vaccine, unlike biotech startups BioNTech and Moderna.

The aim was now for France to develop “at least 20” biotech drugs against cancers, as well as against emerging and chronic illnesses, including those associated with ageing, Macron said.

“We need to concentrate all our efforts on this objective,” he said.

A French presidential official, who asked not to be named, said Macron had laid out the plan in the wake of the coronavirus crisis “which showed our vulnerability and our dependence on foreign countries in some key sectors but also the importance of innovation which can change everything.”

French officials believe that France needs to act rapidly to close the gap and not surrender more ground to emerging powers, notably China.

French carmakers, which Macron said had suffered “cruelly” over the past 30 years, should redirect their efforts towards cleaner vehicles, with a target of putting two million electric or hybrid cars on the roads.

France would also invest “massively” to get the first low-carbon aircraft into the air with the help of European partners, he said.

Macron said France would also spend one billion euros by 2030 in “disruptive innovation” to produce atomic power, notably by designing compact nuclear reactors known as “small modular reactors” (SMRs) with improved nuclear waste management.

Disruptive innovation was also needed in agriculture, where two billion euros would be earmarked for new technologies, he said, especially in robotics.

France should start “a new revolution” in food production which should be “healthy, sustainable and traceable”.

Agriculture would become cleaner, phase out “some pesticides”, enjoy greater productivity and develop “bio-solutions” that would be “more resilient and more solid”, the president said.

Close to six billion euros were meanwhile earmarked for France’s electronics sector with the aim of doubling production and “secure” the country’s supply needs for microchips.

Opposition figures were quick to criticise Macron for the timing of the announcement, with Marine Le Pen, his far-right challenger in the April 2022 presidential election, saying he was “making promises that his successor has to keep”.

Leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon called the speech “Macronian propaganda”, while NGO Greenpeace meanwhile accused Macron of subscribing to a logic that “always delays any real transition and continues to produce as if the planet’s resources were infinite”.

Sealed with a kiss: Macron revives France’s cheeky embrace

The double-cheeked embrace that was a customary greeting in France before the coronavirus pandemic saw it largely abandoned as a potential kiss of death is back with a presidential seal of approval.

French President Emmanuel Macron made the return of “la bise” all but official Friday by giving warm cheek-to-cheek embraces to two World War II veterans at an award ceremony.

The French leader wore a face mask. The veterans – Leon Gautier, 98, and Rene Crignola, 99 – did not. But both seemed comfortable, and reciprocated, as Macron reached in and put his cheeks to theirs.

Macron is vaccinated against the coronavirus and also suffered a moderate bout of COVID-19 in December.

The gesture put Macron’s seal of approval on what is still a slow, hesitant and not always welcome return of embraces. They became frowned upon as COVID-19 infections ravaged France, which counts 110,000 dead from the disease.

With 60% of France’s adults now having had at least one jab, embracing family and friends again has been one of the joys of vaccination for those who are quickly falling back into the habit.

But others are clinging to the hope that its disappearance during the height of the pandemic might still become permanent, particularly in workplaces.

Even before the pandemic, “la bise” was a source of pision. Having to do rounds of kisses with colleagues was regarded as an awkward and tedious chore by some, a pleasant, relationship-affirming exercise by others.

Macron’s embraces for the veterans as he awarded them the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest award, marked another step toward France feeling like its former self again.

Face masks also came off this week – no longer required attire outdoors in most circumstances. And a nighttime curfew is ending on Sunday.

Joe Biden to urge G-7 leaders to call out, compete with China

The United States plans to push democratic allies on Saturday to publicly call out China for forced labour practices as the Group of Seven leaders gather at a summit where they will also unveil an infrastructure plan meant to compete with Beijing’s efforts in the developing world.

The provocative proposal is part of President Joe Biden’s escalating campaign to get fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with China in the century ahead, according to two senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans for the seaside summit publicly.

The officials said Biden wanted G-7 leaders to speak out in a single voice against forced labour practices targeting Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

Biden hopes the denunciation will be part of the joint communique released at the summit’s end, but some European allies have been reluctant to so forcefully split with Beijing. It may not be clear until the three-day summit ends on Sunday whether the leaders will take that step.

The wealthy nations’ leaders were all smiles and unity as they were welcomed to the summit on Friday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the freshly raked sand of Carbis Bay for their first gathering since 2019.

Last year’s gathering was canceled because of COVID-19, and recovery from the pandemic is dominating this year’s discussions, with members of the wealthy democracies’ club expected to commit to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries.

China also loomed large over the meeting on the craggy coast of Cornwall. Biden’s proposed critique of China’s labour practices was to be raised as the allies unveil an infrastructure proposal dubbed “Build Back Better for the World,” a name that echoes the slogan of the American president’s election campaign.

The plan calls for spending hundreds of millions of dollars in collaboration with the private sector. It’s designed to compete with China’s trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative,” which has launched a network of projects and maritime lanes that already snake around large portions of the world, primarily Asia and Africa.

Critics say the projects often create massive debt and expose nations to undue influence by Beijing.

Not every European power has viewed China in as harsh a light as Biden, who has painted the rivalry with the techno-security state as the defining competition for the 21st century. But there are signs that Europe is willing to put greater scrutiny on Beijing.

Weeks before Biden took office last year, the European Commission announced it had come to terms with Beijing on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, a deal meant to provide Europe and China greater access to each other’s markets. The Biden administration had hoped to have consultations on the pact.

But the deal has been put on hold, and the European Union in March announced sanctions targeting four Chinese officials involved with human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing, in turn, responded by imposing sanctions on several members of the European Parliament and other Europeans critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

Biden administration officials see the moment as an opportunity to take concrete action to speak out against China’s reliance on forced labor as an “affront to human dignity.”

While calling out China in the communique wouldn’t create any immediate penalties for Beijing, one senior administration official said the action was meant to send a message that the G-7 was serious about defending human rights and working together to eradicate the use of forced labor.

An estimated 1 million people or more – most of them Uyghurs – have been confined in reeducation camps in China’s western Xinjiang region in recent years, according to researchers. Chinese authorities have been accused of imposing forced labor, systematic forced birth control, torture and separating children from incarcerated parents.

Beijing rejects allegations that it is committing crimes.

Opening three days of talks in southwest England, Johnson on Friday warned that world leaders must not repeat errors made over the past 18 months – or those made during the recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis.

“It is vital that we don’t repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession in 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society,” he said after leaders posed for a “family photo” by the sea.

“And I think what’s gone wrong with this pandemic, and what risks being a lasting scar, is that I think the inequalities may be entrenched,” Johnson added.

The leaders of the G-7 – which also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – hope the meeting at the seaside resort will energize the global economy.

As Johnson led the politicians off the beach, French President Emmanuel Macron threw his arm around the shoulders of Biden, whom he was meeting for the first time. The two men will have more formal talks on Saturday, a meeting between allies who recalibrated their relationship during the four years of President Donald Trump‘s “America first” foreign policy.

Macron’s preference for multilateralism was out of step with Trump’s isolationist tendencies. But the Trump era was often framed by Macron as a clarifying moment – one in which Europe had to step forward as America drifted away from alliances and toward Trumpism.

In Video: Coronavirus set to dominate discussions as G-7 summit begins

US, France warn Iran that time running out to revive nuclear deal

The United States and France on Friday warned Iran that time is running out to return to a nuclear deal, voicing fear that Tehran’s sensitive atomic activities could advance if talks drag on.

On the first high-level visit to Paris by President Joe Biden’s administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his French hosts saluted a new spirit of cooperation after four years of turbulence under Donald Trump.

But the two sides said that one key Biden promise – to return to the 2015 Iran accord that was trashed by Trump is at risk if the clerical regime does not make concessions during talks that have been going on for more than two months in Vienna.

Blinken warned that the United States still has “serious differences” with Iran, which has kept negotiating since last week’s presidential election won by hardliner Ebrahim Raisi.

“There will come a point, yes, where it will be very hard to return back to the standards set by the JCPOA,” Blinken told reporters, using the acronym for the accord’s formal name.

“We haven’t reached that point — I can’t put a date on it — but it’s something that we’re conscious of.”

Blinken warned that if Iran “continues to spin ever more sophisticated centrifuges” and steps up uranium enrichment, it will bring nearer the “breakout” time at which it will be dangerously close to the ability to develop a nuclear bomb.

But Blinken said that Biden still supports a return to the accord, under which Iran had drastically scaled back its nuclear work until Trump withdrew in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions.

“We have a national interest in trying to put the nuclear problem back in the box that it was in the JCPOA,” Blinken said.

France — which like Britain, Germany, Russia and China had stayed in the 2015 accord despite pressure from Trump — also ramped up pressure on Iran to move ahead.

“We expect the Iranian authorities to take the final decisions — no doubt difficult ones — which will allow the negotiations to be concluded,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at the joint news conference with Blinken.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement in response: “The opposing sides are the ones who must take the decisions.”

The UN nuclear watchdog said Friday it had received no reply from Tehran over the possible extension of a temporary agreement covering inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities which expired on Thursday.

Under that deal, which had allowed for some IAEA inspections to continue after Iran limited access to sites in February, Tehran pledged to keep recordings “of some activities and monitoring equipment” and hand them over to the IAEA as and when US sanctions are lifted.

But Iran’s envoy to the IAEA said on Twitter that the data recording was “a political decision” to facilitate the political talks and “shouldn’t be considered as obligation”.

Talks have stalled in part over Iran’s insistence on the lifting of all sanctions, pointing to the promises of economic relief under the accord.

The Biden administration says it is ready to lift economic measures related to nuclear work as laid out by the JCPOA — but that it will keep other sanctions, including over human rights and Iran’s support to militant movements in the Arab world.

Some experts believe that Iran had been waiting for the election of Raisi, whose hardline approach is backed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ultimate arbiter of the Islamic republic’s foreign policy.

Analysts have said Iran could strike a deal before Raisi takes office in August — letting him take the credit for the expected economic boost but blame outgoing president Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who championed a better relationship with the West, if the situation deteriorates.

Blinken, who was raised in Paris, hailed the alliance with France and sprinkled his remarks with fluent French, in a sharp change of tone after the sometimes abrasive “America First” approach of the Trump administration.

“I would even be tempted to say, welcome home!” Le Drian said as he welcomed Blinken in an ornate room of the Quai d’Orsay, the French foreign ministry.

Blinken later met French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace. The State Department said they looked for common ground on the challenges of Russia and China, crises in Lebanon and Ethiopia and the fight against Islamic State extremists in the Sahel.

Blinken is on a European tour that also took him to Germany and will continue in Italy, just after Biden visited the continent.

The Biden administration has looked to show unity with Europe as it looks to the rise of an increasingly assertive China as its primary global challenge.

EU ministers to weigh Afghan security, migrant challenges

European Union foreign ministers are holding emergency talks on Tuesday to weigh the security implications of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan amid concern that widespread fear of hardline Islamist rule will provoke an exodus of people from the conflict-ravaged country.

Afghans are among the biggest group of nationalities seeking sanctuary in Europe, after Syrians. According to some EU estimates, around 570,000 Afghans have applied for asylum in Europe since 2015.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that France, Germany and other European partners would work swiftly on a “robust response” to any new influx of unauthorised migrants from Afghanistan.

He said the “organised and just international effort” would be marked by “an effort of solidarity, the harmonisation of protection criteria and cooperation with transit countries” that Afghan migrants might move through. Turkey, with whom the EU already has a migrant outsourcing deal, is one such country.

“Europe cannot alone assume the consequences,” Macron said.

Austria, meanwhile, plans to suggest at a meeting of EU interior ministers on Wednesday that deportation centres be set up in countries neighbouring Afghanistan.

The arrival of well over a million migrants in 2015, mostly from Syria and Iraq, sparked one of the 27-nation EU’s biggest crises as nations bickered over how best to manage the influx. The infighting continues today and a new wave of migrants from Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate those tensions.

Asylum applications by Afghan nationals climbed by a third since February as it became clear that the United States would pull troops out of Afghanistan. More than 4,648 applications were lodged in May, according to the EU’s asylum office. About half of the applications tend to be successful.

More entries from Afghanistan should be manageable for the EU bloc of some 450 million people. Most Afghans are likely to flee to Iran or Pakistan, or other northern neighbours.

On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top German politicians warned of a possible new wave of refugees and appealed for assistance to help Afghanistan’s neighbors keep people close to their homes.

“This is primarily about helping neighboring countries to which the Afghan refugees may perhaps go,” Merkel told reporters.

The International Organisation for Migration warned Tuesday of a growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as the conflict exacerbates the impact of a major drought and the coronavirus pandemic. It said that nearly 400,000 people in Afghanistan have been displaced so far this year and that over 5 million others depend on aid.