The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meeting Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD-2017) celebrations, in Bengaluru, Karnataka on January 08, 2017.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who is on a state visit to India has aired his country’s interest in boosting defence ties with India. On Monday, Ayrault met PM Narendra Modi where both the leaders in-depth discussed about enhancing the robust Indo-French ties.
Ayrault is being accompanied by a high-level delegation which comprises of industrial leaders and intellects. The delegation is on a three-day visit to India and is on a mission to not just boost strategic and economic ties but also to promote cultural and people-people relations.
The delegation began its visit by attending the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas – 2017 (PBD) which was organised by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in India’s IT capital – Bengaluru.
After his brief meeting with PM Modi, Ayrault briefing the media said that they discussed a wide range of issues, including defence and terrorism. He has also said that France stands committed to provide India with more arms as the country needs to protect itself.
The visiting minister while briefing the media said “I spoke about different aspects of our partnership. We spoke about defence because India needs to protect itself. Therefore, defence is an important area. I also shared with him [PM Modi] concerns about terrorism and how we are together in fighting it. India has various defence needs, like Rafale fighter aircraft, submarines, helicopters and other things.”
India and France have traditionally shared a warm relationship and have one of the most robust defence and strategic ties. Both the countries in September last year had inked a multi-billion dollar government-to-government deal for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft. The deal which was stuck on the negotiation tables for years was finally concluded at about Rs 59,000 crore.
India will by 2022 be getting 36 highly-capable Rafale fighters in fly-away condition from France. The Rafale fighter jets are medium multi-role fighter aircraft which are capable of mounting punitive and crippling strikes deep inside enemy territory.
India has an imperative need for at least 200 medium multi-role fighters and outgoing former Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha only last week, had said that the French-made Rafales were a possible choice for IAF.
France has been one of the leading defence equipment providers to India and in the past has offered its capable Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters to IAF. France has stood by India during testing times and was one of the only countries that did not impose sanctions following the nuclear tests by India.
India’s leading shipbuilder MDL based out of Mumbai in partnership with France’s leading maritime solution provider DCNS is building six Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines for the Indian Navy. On January 12th, MDL will launch Khanderi, the second of six submarines, marking a major milestone in Indian Navy’s Program – 75.
MDL and DCNS expect to complete the tender by 2022 and are expecting a follow-up order for three more submarines of this class. DCNS remains confident of bagging the multi-billion dollar Project 75I.
The visiting delegation also discussed about the civil nuclear energy co-operation agreement which India and France concluded in November, 2008.
The leaders also addressed issues of French companies which are investing in India in various domains such as transport, energy, smart city, automobile and waste management. Ayrault speaking about the developments said “We spoke about multiple aspects of our investment. Many French companies are present in India. We would also like Indian companies to invest in France. We must have the principle of reciprocity,”
Ayrault is slated to meet Modi again when both the leaders attend the ‘Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit’ in Ahmedabad. France has a large presence in the event and CEO of Dassault Aviation – Eric Trappier – is also expected to attend the event.
India and France are working closely to develop several advanced space technologies. Both the countries have in the past launched multiple satellites of each other’s using their respective launch vehicles. The visiting Foreign Minister on Monday also visited Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and will be concluding a much awaited deal between ISRO and French Space Agency (CNES) for satellite launch technology.
France has remained one of India’s crucial allies which has provided the country with the latest defence equipment and technologies. France remains committed to making India self-reliant in the defence sector and with the visit of Ayrault the country has renewed its commitment to its long time ally India.