NEW DELHI: India and France on Friday reviewed their defence and strategic ties and discussed security situation including co-operation in fighting terrorism during talks between visiting French defence minister Florence Parley and her Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman.
After selling 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, French government is now pushing for a project to manufacture warplanes here in Indian soil to give a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to encourage local manufacturing under ‘Make In India’ and visiting Florence Parly has kept this in her main agenda for talks with her Indian counterpart. The progress of the Rafale fighter jet deal worth over six billion Euros was also reviewed, it was learnt.
Incidentally, Florence Parly of France and Nirmala Sithraman are the only two women to head the Defence Ministry of nuclear-armed nations.
Besides these issues, the two sides also explored the possibilities of transfer of critical technology to boost the capabilities of Indian defence manufacturing sector under the ‘Make in India’ policy. The two countries agreed to have more intense relationship in the field of research and development for manufacturing weapon systems as joint projects here.
The two sides also decided to expand military to military ties including the enhancement of scope of joint maritime exercises Varuna.
The defence ministry officials said after the ministerial level meeting that the two ministers had a look at the ongoing initiatives to further boost bilateral defence co-operation as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between India and France.
Besides ramping up the level of military to military exercises, the two sides also agreed to actively explore additional measures to facilitate operational level interactions between the armed forces of two countries. The two countries also reiterated their intention to further expand bilateral co-operation on counter-terrorism.
Taking note of growing importance of maritime security in India-Pacific region and need for greater maritime domain awareness, the two ministers agreed to further expand information sharing arrangements building upon the Technical Arrangement on Exchange of White Shipping information signed earlier this year.
Later in the day, Parly visited Nagpur, where she laid the Foundation Stone for the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) manufacturing facility in Mihan, Nagpur.
The Dassault-Reliance manufacturing facility Dhirubhai Ambani Aerospace Park is located in the Mihan SEZ adjoining Nagpur International Airport. Under Joint Venture company, DRAL (51% Reliance Aerostructure and 49% Dassault Aviation) the facility will manufacture several components of the offset obligation connected to the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighters from France, signed between the two Governments in September 2016.