Rafale deal, nuclear pact will have to wait

Published: 12th February 2013 07:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th February 2013 07:44 AM   |  A+A-

None of the big ticket deals would be clinched during French President Francois Hollande’s two-day visit to India, beginning February 14.

At a talk on ‘What Makes the Indo-French Relations Special: Understanding the Dynamics of the Strategic Partnership’ at Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation on Monday, French Ambassador to India Francois Richier said the visit would rather underline India’s importance in French foreign policy priorities. More so, as it would be Hollande’s first foreign bilateral visit to Asia since his election to the top post in May last year.

He said contract signing for 126 Rafale fighter aircraft would not happen during the visit. Talks are on between Dassault Aviation and Indian Air Force for the deal. He said India’s demand for technology transfer for the fighter aircraft has been accepted and would be incorporated into the proposed contract.

“Defence is an area where we have a lot do together. We foresee co-production and co-development in India,” Richier said. He claimed the agreement for medium multi-role combat aircraft would help trigger a vast array of scientific and technical cooperation.

Other Indo-French defence projects include Scorpene submarine and short-range surface-to-air missile projects.

On the proposed sale of six 1,650 megawatt reactors for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, Richier said negotiations would “take some time”.  Diplomatic sources said safety concerns after the Fukushima disaster delayed the deal, especially as the reactors would have relatively new technology.

Five cabinet ministers, several members of Parliament, mayors and a large business delegation would accompany Hollande.

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