French Chief of Defence Staff in New Delhi

New Delhi, Oct 18 (ANI): French Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud is in New Delhi ahead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to India in December, in a bid to enhance military ties between the two countries, as Paris looks to firm up its position as a reliable arms supplier to India.

Guillaud's visit has come when the two countries are on the cusp of signing a deal expected to be worth over 2.1 billion dollars for upgrading the 50 Mirage-2000 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

During his four-day visit, Guillaud is also scheduled to hold meetings with the top brass of the Indian military, including Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik, navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and army chief General V. K. Singh.

Guillaud will also hold high-level discussions with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon. He is also scheduled to go to Mumbai and meet Western Naval Commander Vice-Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin there.

Guillaud will also visit the Mazagon shipyard, where India is building its six conventional submarines with French shipbuilding company DCNS (Direction des Constructions Navales).

France, which won the over-18-billion-rupee deal for building six Scorpene submarines in 2005, is also one of the contenders for the Rs 30 billion contract for building another six submarines.

French aircraft manufacturer Dassault is also in the race for supplying 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force, and has offered its Rafale fighters. (AN1)

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