French Foreign Min offers more Rafale fighters and Scorpene Submarines to India

In a major initiative French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has indicated that France is ready to supply more critical defence equipment to India. The Minister who began his three-day India visit from Bengaluru on Sunday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and told the media  that they discussed a wide range of issues, including defence and terrorism. He said on the sidelines of a function after meeting with Modi, France was ready to give more arms to India as India needs to protect itself.

 He 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 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,” he added. 

In view of a reported docking of a Chinese nuclear Submarine at Lahore port in Pakistan this meeting between both the leaders assumes significance. In September last year, India had inked a Euro 7.87 billion (about Rs59,000 crore) deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear weapons and equipped with latest missiles that will give the IAF greater “potency” over arch rival Pakistan.

 Ayrault said he and Modi also spoke about civil nuclear energy because it can contribute to India’s energy mix as the Indian Prime Minister has made a commitment to the Paris climate agreement. Besides, space, another area of cooperation between the two countries as also the economic aspects of the Indo-French partnership and “multiple aspects of our investment” were covered during the talks, he said. 

The issue of French companies investing in India in various domains like smart city, transport, energy, waste management and automobile was discussed, he 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,” he added. Ayrault said he would meet Modi again on Tuesday, when he would attend the ‘Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit’ in Ahmedabad.

 He is participating in the Summit, of which France is a partner country, at the invitation of the Government of Gujarat. The French Minister, who began his visit to the country’s IT hub by going to a temple and Russel Market, an old landmark in the city, also highlighted the cultural aspects of the relationship between India and France. He will also visit Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)  on Monday to conclude a partnership between ISRO  and French Space Agency (CNES) in satellite launch technology before he leaves for Gujarat on Tuesday.


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