Rafale delivery will start in Sep: French envoy

Rafale a tool for India's sovereignty, says French Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France at a meeting in New Delhi, Monday, June 10, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Notwithstanding the controversy over the deal to procure Rafale fighter jets for Indian Air Force, France on Monday said that the aircraft would help India better protect its sovereignty.

Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, French Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs, said that first of the 36 Rafale fighter jet New Delhi bought from Dassault Aviation of France would land in India in September and then the remaining 35 would be delivered one after another.

"The French Government does not care about controversies and we have a roadmap, we just want to deliver (the fighter jets). It is in the interest of the two countries. Rafale is a tool for better sovereignty for India,” said Lemoyne.

He said that investigation is going on into the attempt to break into the IAF's Paris office, which is overseeing the procurement of the 36 Rafale fighter jets for India, last month. “Indian authorities will be updated when we get new details”.

Lemoyne was in New Delhi to start preparation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit to Paris to attend the G-7 summit in August. Modi was invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to attend the summit as a special invitee. Modi's visit to Paris will also include a “bilateral component”, the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi.

“The invitation (to G7 summit) is a reflection of the personal chemistry between the two leaders (Modi and Macron), a demonstration of our deepening strategic partnership and recognition of India as a major economic power,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the MEA, said.

Lemoyne had a meeting with Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Monday. He also called on External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

He welcomed Prime Minister's call for a global conference to build a consensus against terrorism.

"Every single initiative to fight terrorism is welcome because it is a threat to every country in the world... So, everything that can be done to unite efforts is welcome. It's (terrorism) a global challenge like climate change. We will be closely looking at this initiative," he said.

"Fight against terrorism is at the heart of our priorities... France stands alongside India on this... and I can say that we have strong relations in this front," he said.

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