Seeking to give a greater momentum to their strategic relationship, India and France on Sunday discussed a wide spectrum of issues, including defence and terrorism, with the French side saying the bilateral ties should move forward with the speed of a Rafale fighter jet.
During the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault in Bengaluru, both leaders had “considerable” discussions on international terrorism of which the two countries are victims.
“I spoke about different aspects of our partnership,”
Ayrault told reporters here on the sidelines of a function after his meeting with Modi, who was here to attend the 14th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Centre’s outreach programme for overseas Indians.
The French minister, who began his three-day visit to India from here, said: “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.”
Noting that India has various defence needs, for example Rafale, he said, “It needs submarines, it needs helicopters. So we did discuss all of these.”
In September last year, India had inked a Euro 7.87 billion (about Rs 59,000 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.
In his media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said Ayrault and Modi reaffirmed close strategic partnerships between the two countries and deliberated upon several issues including bilateral relations in defence and international terrorism.
“The PM of India today welcomed the French Foreign Affairs Minister on his first visit to India. Both sides reaffirmed close strategic partnerships between India and France, which will be seen as a further fillip for the closure of Rafale deal,” he said on the sidelines of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, now on in Bengaluru.
The French Minister said “the bilateral ties should now move forward with a speed of Rafale,” according to Swarup. Swaroop also said both the leaders had a comprehensive drill on bilateral relations in defence and Modi reiterated upon “Make In India” slogan in defence.
The two leaders discussed about the cooperation in civil energy with specific reference to Jaitapur nuclear plant, he said.