The Prime Minister boarded the VVIP flight to Paris nearly 45 minutes late. He was seen off at the airport by Federal Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan. Accompanied by his wife and representatives from ANP, MQM, PML F, PML Q as well as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Minister of Petroleum Naveed Qamar. the PMs entourage included reporters, editors and senior representatives of private and state media who are travelling with him on first state visit to France since he became Prime Minister. This trip has had to be rescheduled several times due to domestic issues and engagements, but is at last taking place between the 3rd and 6th of May this year. On boarding the flight, the Prime Minister took a round of the entire plane before taking his seat, meeting and shaking hands with members of the entourage. The plane was taxi-ing to the runway by the time he was seated. The flight was uneventful and smooth, with touchdown in Paris an hour later than scheduled due to the delay in take-off. Mr Henri de Raincourt, the French Minister for Cooperation and the Pakistani ambassador to France and his wife received the Prime Minister and his wife at the airport. The main agenda of the Paris visit is to improve bi-lateral ties and to encourage a feeling of trust and cooperation between Pakistan and the French, which is hoped will remove the hesitation France has so far felt for supporting Pakistans case for access to EU markets. During President Zardaris disastrously timed visit when the floods hit last year, a civil nuclear deal between France and Pakistan looked like a possibility. During the PMs trip though, that discussion has taken a back seat and it seems that the deal may take longer to materialize successfully, if at all. All the attention is now focused on increasing economic ties through French investment in Pakistan and Pakistani products in EU markets. During the visit, the PM is scheduled to meet with French President Mr Nikolas Sarkozy, French Prime Minister Mr Francois Fillion and the President of the French Senate Mr Gerard Larcher as well as the French Defence Minister Mr Gerard Longuet.Rameeza Majid Nizami