France hails Rafale deal

France hails Rafale deal

France on Friday said that its Rafale fighter jet deal with India was one of the "most emblematic" of the bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian referred to the Rafale fighter jet deal and the P-75 Scorpene submarine project as the most emblematic of the defence cooperation between India and France. Le Drian, who is currently on a visit to New Delhi, however, noted that the range of the defence cooperation between the two nations was much wider.

"Our defence partnership is well known through the Rafale and Scorpne projects to mention only the most emblematic ones but it is far broader than that, similar to our cooperation in the Indian Ocean," the French foreign minister said, as he and his host, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, addressed the media after a meeting on Friday.

Le Drian referred to the Rafale deal at a time when a war of words broke out between the Congress and the BJP over the purchase of the 36 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation of France for the air force.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweaked the deal to ensure benefit for one businessman.

The agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets by India from Dassault Aviation of France in flyaway condition was signed last year.

Le Drian, who was earlier defence minister of France, played a key role in clinching the deal on behalf of the French government.

He visited New Delhi several times to push for the deal. He and the then defence minister of India, Manohar Parrikar, signed the agreement in New Delhi on September 23, 2016.

Le Drian called on the prime minister on Friday. A press release quoted Modi telling Le Drian that the significance of India-France Strategic Partnership was not limited to the bilateral context, but it acted as a force for peace and stability in the regional and global context as well.

The contract for six Scorpene submarines from M/s DCNS of France was signed in October 2006. All six submarines would be built under technology transfer at the Mazagaon Docks Limited in Mumbai. The first two submarines, Kalvari and Khanderi, has already been built.

"India-France defence cooperation has been growing very strong encompassing institutional interactions, joint military exercises, acquisition, training, and research and development," Sushma tweeted.

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